PENDING HOME SALES RISE FOR THE 4TH STRAIGHT MONTH

Lawrence Yun explains the numbers here:

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me atJason@JasonsHomes.com or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,
Jason

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!

Want to see local real estate values and home prices?  Go to www.RealEstateCrystalBall.com !

ACCORDING TO BUSINESSWEEK.COM, LANCASTER IS THE 19TH BEST PLACE IN THE NATION TO START OVER!

THAT’S RIGHT, 19 OUT OF 20! AS ALWAYS, THE SECURITY AND STABILITY OF OUR LOCAL ECONOMY CONTINUES TO KEEP OUR COUNTY IN THE TOP 20 LISTS OF MULTIPLE PUBLICATIONS AS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE IN AMERICA! IF YOU WERE WONDERING IF NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY OR SELL A HOME, THE ANSWER IS YES!

Lancaster, Pa.
Companies planning to hire in next quarter: 18%
Best job prospects: Construction, Durable Goods Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, Leisure & Hospitality, Government
Population: 140,804
Average home price in January: $168,618
Unemployment rate: 7.3%
Lancaster, in Pennsylvania Dutch country, has been developing its downtown and now has a growing number of shopping, dining, and cultural options. Prince Street, with its art galleries, is known as “Gallery Row.” The metro area’s unemployment rate has been rising but it’s relatively low compared with the rest of the state.

Click Here for the full article!

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,
Jason

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!

HAVOC! OH, I APOLOGIZE, I MEANT HVCC!

Recently, the fine folks in the government implemented a new set of rules called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The purpose was to protect consumers and lenders from buying or lending for over-valued properties. The problem was that in some cases, in a few areas in our nation, lenders were “forcing” appraisers into inflating property values higher than they should be to make loans. If for example a loan application had a purchase price of $200,000 and the property only appraised for $190,000, then either the buyer and seller agreed to lower the price or the deal never happened. In some cases, some very bad lenders got together with some very bad appraisers and bumped the prices up so that magically, the home appraised, thereby “saving” the loan and making more money for the lender. This is obviously a huge problem if it happens, because home owners are then stuck with properties that were not worth what they thought they were.

Being as we can all agree that this is not a good thing, the government decided they needed to solve the problem. Rather than simply investigating and prosecuting (which in the government’s defense some prosecution did happen, which generated these rules) and then setting up an oversight system where they could make sure the existing ethics rules and laws were actually obeyed (which 99.5% of the time they are), they decided that the best way to solve this problem was to set up a system where lenders were simply never allowed to talk to appraisers, the theory being that if lenders could never talk to appraisers then they could not influence values, thereby protecting consumers from purchasing over valued homes. No one talks to anyone, so no one can do anything bad, sounds good, right?

Now, you know me, I never like to be negative, but this is absolutely a case of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. The old system wasn’t broken, what happened was simple, some criminals defrauded the system and broke the law. Implementing the HVCC rules to solve this issue is, in my opinion, overkill. Similar to this: someone breaks a window at your house, climbs in and robs you. Rather than fixing the window and installing a new lock, maybe investing in better security, you decide the answer is to just buy a new house somewhere else and start over. That is a bit of an over reaction, wouldn’t you say?

So, why specifically is HVCC a problem? Well, the new HVCC rules are causing numerous issues all through out our industry and while the intention of the rules were good, the solution set forth in these rules has caused way more harm than good and the rules need to be re-evaluated to address specific problems such as:

1. Appraisals now cost anywhere from $150 to $200 MORE than before.
2. Transactions are taking LONGER to close, 45-60 days instead of 30.
3. There is absolutely no accountability in the process at all, if the appraisal is late, holding up settlement, done improperly, etc, the lender has no ability to even talk to the appraiser to straighten out the issue, as the simple act of lenders talking to appraisers is outlawed under this new rule.
4. Experienced appraisers are being forced out of the business by the “system” and inexperienced appraisers are taking their place, leading to improperly done appraisals that we have no recourse in correcting, as outlined in #3.
5. These issues are costing consumers across the country millions of dollars in excess fees and some transactions are simply falling apart.

If you would like some more insight into the problem, the link below has a video that thoroughly explains our industry’s frustrations right now:

https://www.thinkbigworksmall.com/public/showArchiveVideo/1/4916

Until such a time as this issue is corrected, we will continue to have problems. There are a few solutions we real estate professionals can pursue until then:

1. Be realistic, set appropriate timeframes for your settlements. 30 day settlements are probably not realistic for you. Plan on increased closing costs as well, these appraisal prices are heading up, not down.

2. The complete impact of these new rules still has not been felt. Never assume that the parties involved, consumers, agents, lenders, know everything you know. If they are telling you it is fine, don’t worry, then I would suggest you dig a little deeper, pay attention and understand the process. Do not assume it will be fine unless you are taking steps to make it fine.

3. Use local lenders. Out of area lenders are more likely to end up with out of area appraisers. If they don’t know your market, can they really give you an accurate appraisal?

4. This is the most important :COMMUNICATE! All parties involved must understand that this is critical, while lenders can’t talk to appraisers anymore agents CAN. Make sure you know who is doing the appraisal, their name, number and company name. Keep it on file to refer to in the future if needed. Talk to each other, be realistic and work together. If you have a chain of 3 transactions all depending on one another to close, talk to all of the agents involved, not just the one on your end of the deal. Remember, it only takes one deal delaying closing or even worse falling apart, to break your chain and cause trouble for everyone.

So, stay informed, pay attention and guide consumers through this new maze competently and your transactions should be fine. Ignore the warning signs at your own risk or these rules will reek havoc on your business.

HVCC is a problem simply because it harms consumers. But it can be fixed. We can do better, we can protect consumers without harming them or costing them money. If you agree with me that there is a problem here, please go to the link below and sign the petition to have this misguided program reviewed and corrected, home buyers and sellers deserve better than this.

http://www.hvccpetition.com/

VIDEOS POSTED BY STEVE HARNEY: HOW TO COUNSEL BUYERS THAT INTEREST RATES ARE A REASON TO BUY NOW

Take a few minutes to watch this excellent discussion of interest rate trends by Steve Harney of www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com .  Steve offers a well thought out and easy to understand analysis of interest rate trends and explains very simply why NOW is the time to buy and waiting for a better rate is not advisable.  Click the video and take a look!

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me atJason@JasonsHomes.com or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,
Jason Burkholder

GIVING THE FINGERPRINT: NEW POLICY RAISES PRIVACY CONCERNS – CBS2CHICAGO.COM

Check out this article, then come on back:

Giving The Fingerprint: New Policy Raises Privacy Concerns – cbs2chicago.com

Well, this does not really affect the world of real estate here in Lancaster, but I can’t imagine I am the only one who sees this as problematic.  Check out the link to the article.  Home sellers in Chicago will now be required to provide a thumbprint when selling, in order to prove they are the seller.

While I am all for preventing fraud, is this really necessary?  I am involved in hundreds of transactions and the process is pretty specific, it seems to me that the type of fraud they are having issues with could be addressed without the need to compile a database of fingerprints.  I am never in favor of intrusive government oversight.  It seems to me that a court case for infringing on people civil liberties will be popping up in short order.  Your thoughts?

HELP FOR OUR SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN AFFECTED BY POOR HOUSING MARKETS

The US Department of Defense, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, recently announced the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP).  The program is designed to “assist eligible homeowners who face financial loss when selling their primary residence homes in areas where real estate values have declined because of a base closure or realignment announcement.”  The program can benefit civilian personnel in some cases as well.  Here are some of the basics taken directly from the website established as a resource for affected individuals:

PRIVATE SALE

Eligible applicants may be compensated for the difference between 95% of the appraised fair market value of the property prior to the announcement date, and the appraised value of the property at the time of sale, or the sales price, whichever is greater. Closing costs are reimbursed for private sales.

GOVERNMENT PURCHASE

An eligible applicant may elect to sell the property to the government and receive, as the purchase price, an amount not to exceed 75% of the appraised fair market value prior to the date of the announcement, or the current total amount of outstanding mortgages, whichever is greater.

FORECLOSURE ASSISTANCE

If foreclosure proceedings have commenced, an applicant may elect to receive foreclosure benefits or private sale benefits. Foreclosure benefits may be paid directly to the applicant to reimburse for foreclosure costs paid by the applicant, or paid to third parties on the applicant’s behalf. NOTE: Eligible HAP applicants who work at overseas installations announced for closure or realignment may receive only private sale benefits. Government purchase benefits are not available at overseas installations.

HOW HAP ASSISTS YOU

HAP provides assistance in four ways. For eligible applicants, the Government may:

  1. Reimburse you for part of your loss from selling your home.
  2. Assist you, if you don’t have funds from the sale of your home to pay-off your mortgage.
  3. Purchase your home by paying off the mortgage.
  4. Help, if you default on your mortgage.

For more information on this program visit http://hap.usace.army.mil/homepage.html

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me atJason@JasonsHomes.com or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,
Jason

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!