Green Home Renovation: Fall 2010 Issue Of “EcoHome” Features Alex Wilson, Founder Of Environmental Building News (EBN) And Nationally Recognized Champion Of Sustainable Building

31 10 2010

CLICK ON "ECOHOME" TO VIEW ONLINE EDITION





FundMyRemodel.com Mortgage Update: Mortgage Rates End Week Slightly Higher Ahead Of Fed Meeting And Elections

30 10 2010

Ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting and election results, mortgage rates have been very volatile. Rising rates early in the week were partially offset by improving rates later in the week. In the end, mortgage rates finished the week just a little higher.

At its next meeting on Wednesday, the Fed is expected to announce a new program to purchase Treasury securities (quantitative easing) to boost the economy. Based on comments from Fed officials, investors expect the Fed to purchase roughly $100 billion of Treasury securities per month.

However, the most important question, the total size of the program, is still not known, and investors are very divided in their predictions. The middle ground of the forecasts calls for the Fed to commit to a minimum of $500 billion to $1 trillion. The program is positive for mortgage rates in some ways including added demand for mortgage-backed securities (MBS), but negative in terms of potentially raising future inflation levels. Whatever the Fed decides, investor expectations are so divergent that mortgage rates are likely to be highly volatile after the news.

The housing sector data released during the week was generally better than expected. September Existing Home Sales rose 10% from August. Inventories of unsold existing homes fell 2% to a 10.7-month supply. First-time buyers purchased 32% of homes. Distressed homes accounted for 35% of sales. September New Home Sales rose 7% from August. The inventory of unsold new homes fell to the lowest level since 1968.





FundMyRemodel.com Home Renovation: “Incompletely Renovated Homes” Can Quickly Deteriorate And Will Need “Special Financing” Such As FHA 203k Renovation Loans

29 10 2010
 Incompletely renovated homes sometimes can’t qualify for a certificate of occupancy, and without that, the buyer can’t get a conventional mortgage. Homes that need extensive renovation require a special kind of mortgage – a Federal Housing Administration Section 203(k) loan, which allows the home buyer to include up to $35,000 of renovation costs in the amount borrowed.
 
Some half-finished renovations end up so badly damaged by rain and snow that they can’t be salvaged, building officials say. Beyond that, many buyers just don’t want the trouble of completing a renovation when there are plenty of move-in-ready houses on the market.
 
Ralph and Gloria Dickerson began a $150,000 expansion of their Englewood, N.J., house in 2004. But the work dwindled to a halt several years ago, and foreclosure proceedings were started on the house last year. The property now sits empty, with exposed insulation wrap outside, peeling paint inside and signs on the lawn announcing: “For sale by owner.”When home renovations stall, properties like this turn into white elephants. If they go on the market, their unkempt state scares off many potential buyers. And in the meantime, neighbors fume at the eyesore in their midst.

Municipal building codes generally require that home additions and renovations be completed within a certain period, and building officials typically fine homeowners who don’t comply. But enforcement can be tricky.

Some owners try to sell their unfinished homes. But that’s also complicated.

Barbara Ostroth of Coldwell Banker in Oradell, N.J., for example, has a listing for a half-renovated house. Though the house has central air conditioning and three renovated bathrooms, some of the rooms remain stripped to the framework.

The three-bedroom house is on the market for $307,000. A contractor estimated completing the job would cost $80,000 to $90,000, Ostroth said.

One big problem: Incompletely renovated homes sometimes can’t qualify for a certificate of occupancy, and without that, the buyer can’t get a conventional mortgage. Homes that need extensive renovation require a special kind of mortgage – a Federal Housing Administration Section 203(k) loan, which allows the home buyer to include up to $35,000 of renovation costs in the amount borrowed.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/national/20101029_Another_house-sale_killer__Incomplete_renovations.html#ixzz13ky9ME81
Watch sports videos you won’t find anywhere else





“FundMyRemodel.com” Contractor Update: Homeowners Should Interview Qualified Contractors At Home For Remodels Where They Should Provide References And Perform A Thorough Energy-Efficiency Review Of Entire Home

28 10 2010

“Some had planned on getting a bigger house as their family expanded, but they can’t sell, so they’re adding another bedroom instead,”

“Anyone who’s legit in this business has four or five references saved on their phone,”

Many clients of First Choice Carpentry are looking to add value to their homes and improve their energy efficiency, according to Max Capestany, the Issaquah-based company’s project specialist.

The company has worked extensively in the Snoqualmie Valley, including framing houses on Snoqualmie Ridge. The tight housing market has changed some homeowners’ plans, he said.

“Some had planned on getting a bigger house as their family expanded, but they can’t sell, so they’re adding another bedroom instead,” he said.

Other homeowners are taking advantage of tax credits to improve their houses’ energy efficiency and save on their heating bills. Some are just taking advantage of a buyers’ market.

While it will continue to be a buyers’ market for the near future, tax credits for energy improvements will go away soon. The credits in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008 expire at the end of the year.

Until then, homeowners can receive tax credit for installing Energy Star materials or appliances. The credit is up to 30 percent of the project’s cost or $1,500, whichever is lower.

Plenty of things have an Energy Star rating: windows, dishwashers, insulation, shingles and so on. A home remodel project is a big commitment for a homeowner, and there are some things they should keep in mind, Capestany said.

The first question they should ask is “Who’s doing the work?”

“The temptation of every homeowner is to get caught up in the types of materials being used,” Capestany said. “What’s most important is who you have doing the work.”

Don’t just go for the cheapest contractor. Check out their credentials and track record first.

When a contractor comes out to look at your house, ask for references on the spot, Capestany said.

“Anyone who’s legit in this business has four or five references saved on their phone,” he said.

Ask for the person’s contractor license number, and look it up on the website for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry.

Check Angie’s List for customer reviews.

Talk to the contractor about how he or she does his or her work.

“Just taking time with the contractor in the home before any documents are signed” can save major headaches down the road, Capestany said.

If it is a general contractor, ask for a thorough energy-efficiency inspection of your house. This simple task can prevent a homeowner from wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars, he said.

Capestany recalled one house where the owner had installed an air conditioning unit because inside was sweltering hot in the summer.

The owner didn’t have a general contractor look at the house, which would have revealed that the attic was not properly ventilated and causing the house to heat up.

Walking around a house, Capestany said, he can quickly spot where a home is losing heat.

“Sometimes, I’ll go into a house and see 1970’s-era single-pane windows with aluminum casing,” he said. “When you stand next to the window, you can literally feel the cold air coming in.”

When crunching numbers, homeowners should consider a project’s cost versus the expected savings, Capestany said. Remodeling Magazine has useful cost-versus-value comparisons.

Seek information from professionals.

“Home shows are a great source of information,” he said.

Some homeowners are also taking advantage of the fact that it is a buyers’ market.

Ahren and Allie Johnson hired First Choice Carpentry to redo the exterior of their home in North Bend.

The project involved adding gutters, masonry work, a new entryway, new window trim and painting.

For more:   http://snovalleystar.com/2010/10/27/remodels-can-add-value-and-beauty





“Hot…Dog Of The Week” Home Renovation Series: Skip Schenker Joins Contractor Brian Singer With Singer Construction To View Corona, CA Home That Will Benefit From An FHA 203k Renovation Loan (Video)

26 10 2010

Renovation lending expert Skip Schenker is joined by licensed general contractor, Brian Singer from Singer Construction as they walk thru this Corona property with is about to undergo a remodel using the FHA 203k Renovation loan.





FundMyRemodel.com Mortgage Lending Update: Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Have Instituted Stricter Underwriting Guidelines Which Have Caused Mortgage Refinance Applications To Be Rejected

26 10 2010

While mortgage interest rates are at their lowest levels since 1945, millions of mortgages that carry interest rates of 6 percent to 9 percent or even higher are not being refinanced. The reasons for this involve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two secondary mortgage market giants now in government conservatorships, in a central role.

The problem is perhaps best seen through the eyes of borrowers who are unable to refinance. Each unsuccessful borrower cited below is representative of a sizable group of unsuccessful borrowers.

Adam was turned down for a refinance because he did not meet the new stiffer underwriting and pricing requirements set by the agencies in their standard programs. His credit score, which was acceptable when he got his loan before the crisis, is not high enough to meet the new requirements.

It clearly was appropriate for the agencies to correct the excessively liberal rules that had prevailed during the go-go years, which contributed to the financial crisis. However, they have reacted to their excessive liberality before the crisis by becoming excessively restrictive in the aftermath. Their underwriting and pricing structures are designed to maximize their net earnings, as if they were still private firms.

Fannie and Freddie are now part of the government, and should set their underwriting rules and pricing adjustments not to maximize net revenue but to break even over a long time horizon.

For more:  http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/articles/2010/10/25/refi_rejections_on_the_rise/





FundMyRemodel.com Renovation: Purchasing Properties For The Right Price And Analysis Will Insure Value

23 10 2010

CLICK ON PICTURE ABOVE TO VIEW CASE STUDY