Here’s a quick way to check out home sales near you.

When you sell or purchase a home, its appraised value is based largely on recent sales of similar properties nearby. Looking at recent sales can help you better understand the value of your own home or one you may someday hope to purchase.

 

Here’s an online resource that will allow you to check sales prices in your area. Listed transactions are up to one year old and fall within a maximum three-mile radius of the address you search. You can follow the link next to each property to see more details.

 

If you find this resource useful, I invite you to share it with others. When you have questions about home values or home financing, please reach out. I’ll be glad to help.

 

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Five Steps To Buying A Home in Maine

 

Five Steps To Buying A Home in Maine

1. How much can you afford?

Getting in touch with a lender is the best way find out what you qualify for. Your Maine loan officer will take your debt to income ratio, run your credit and give you what is known as a “prequalification letter”. Once you have been pre-qualified by your loan officer, you can begin to put in offers. The best lenders to use are located here in Maine.  If you are unsure what lender to contact, a real estate agent can help you.

 

2. The Home Shopping Prerequisite.

What city or area do you want to live in? What kind of home and amenities do you want? 2 story, tile flooring, fireplace, a pool, patio, fenced, rv access, ranch style, traditional, horse property? Before spending precious time looking at plenty of houses that do not match your needs, talk with your agent about all the amenities you may need in a house. They can help you go through your options and get a strategy to find a home you will love.

 

3. Look for homes for sale.

Look for homes that are available in the area, including Fannie Mae, HUD homes, Foreclosures, short sales, and more. Instead of choosing one as the way to go, try looking into all of your options and that will open your range of houses up. Some of the best home deals are HUD homes. Not all agents can show you these homes, so you are better off working with an agent who can.

 

4. Make the seller an offer.

This is one of the most exciting steps of the real state process, however, always make sure you are serious about buying the house you make an offer on because you are signing a legal contract. After signing the offer to purchase, you will write a check for the earnest money deposit of the property,  along with your prequalification letter.

 

5. Your offer gets accepted and escrow starts.

Your agent will set up appointment with the inspectors, other agents, and escrow to get everything done to make that house yours. Your total down payment will be submitted before the end of escrow, minus the deposit you already gave to your real estate agent in the form of a personal check or money order. Your down payment depends on what type of financing you get. There is FHA financing, which is 3.5% down, or conventional which is at least 5% down.  Maine is also a great state for the USDA RD loan. This is only available in rural areas of Maine (Most of Maine qualifies) and it provides 100% financing.

At the end of escrow, the house is yours.

REFINANCE UPDATE if your home is under water

This morning, FHFA announced their enhancements to the HARP refinancing program. Operational details of the plan are to be released on November 15. Only loans that were purchased or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009 and have a current LTV over 80% are eligible. In addition, the loan must be current, no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late in the last 12 months. There are no restrictions on who may refinance these loans.

Program guidelines include:

–              No limit on LTV, if new loan is a fixed rate loan (current LTV must be above 80%)

 

–              Loans previously refinanced under HARP not allowed

 

–              Certain agency fees will be waived if new loan is a shorter term loan

 

–              Appraisals not required where Agency AVM is available

 

–              Certain originator Reps and Warrants will be  waived

Borrowers can determine if their loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie at http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup/ or http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Home Value – A look back over the last 36 years

 

The housing market still faces many challenges. High unemployment, foreclosures
and other distress sales are keeping negative pressure on prices. This of course
is good news if you are looking to buy as low rates and lower prices have
brought affordability to record levels.

How Affordable?
Since 1963, it has cost an average of approximately 43% of ‘per
capita’ or individual income to finance the cost of a median priced home (20%
down payment and prevailing 30 year fixed rate mortgage). Right now, it’s only
about half of that cost at approximately 22%.

Are you holding off
on a purchase for fear that prices might fall further? –
Chances are
that some sellers might be thinking the same thing. If you’re smart about it,
you can use that as an advantage to strike the best possible deal on a home
today for once a seller believes that prices have bottomed or are going back up,
your advantage will be gone.

Don’t confuse Price with Payments
Gambling on the expectation of a lower price tomorrow at the risk of
higher rates can cost much more in the long run than locking in a sure thing
today. Ex. $200,000 30 Yr. fixed loan @ 4.625% = $1028/mo. today vs. $180,000 @
6.5% = $1137 per month later. In other words, paying less can still cost you
more.

Own, Rent, or Borrow – One way or another, a home
is something we all need every day. The numbers here tell the story and it’s no
secret that values have fallen, yet over time, that’s not the case. As you can
see by the chart, values over the last 10 years in most states show very healthy
appreciation. And over the long haul (map), all states have positive
appreciation.

We don’t get a history lesson in the news because
the news is about the moment and the more dramatic the better.
That’s
what sells advertising and that’s how they get paid. For the rest of us, taking
a rational, longer term view of things makes more sense. This is particularly
true when it comes to a home, for this is something we are likely to own for
many years rather than just moments.

How important is a credit score?

 

Before deciding on what terms lenders will offer you on a loan (which they base on the “risk” to them), they want to know two things about you: your ability to pay back the loan, and your willingness to pay back the loan. For the first, they look at your income-to-debt obligation ratio. For your willingness to pay back the loan, they consult your credit score.

 

 

 

The most widely used credit scores are FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. (and they’re named after their inventor!). Your FICO score is between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk).

 

Credit scores only consider the information contained in your credit profile. They do not consider your income, savings, down payment amount, or demographic factors like gender, race, nationality or marital status. In fact, the fact they don’t consider demographic factors is why they were invented in the first place. “Profiling” was as dirty a word when FICO scores were invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed as a way to consider only what was relevant to somebody’s willingness to repay a loan.

 

Past delinquencies, derogatory payment behavior, current debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and number of inquiries are all considered in credit scores. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or reestablishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your score.

 

Different portions of your credit history are given different weights. Thirty-five percent of your FICO score is based on your specific payment history. Thirty percent is your current level of indebtedness. Fifteen percent each is the time your open credit has been in use (ten year old accounts are good, six month old ones aren’t as good) and types of credit available to you (installment loans such as student loans, car loans, etc. versus revolving and debit accounts like credit cards). Finally, five percent is pursuit of new credit — credit scores requested.

 

Your credit report must contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This ensures that there is enough information in your report to generate an accurate score. If you do not meet the minimum criteria for getting a score, you may need to establish a credit history prior to applying for a mortgage.

To get a FREE Copy of your credit score, contact your Maine Mortgage Banker today.


 

Looking for a new Home in Maine Online


Real Estate Agents in Maine are finding new ways to generate business everyday Online. Studies indicate that over 80% of today’s home buyers visit the Internet long before seeking the professional assistance of a Real Estate Professional.

Below are some popular sites  to visit and become familiar with  their features and benefits.

Property Listings & More

1) Redfin.com: In addition to listings, this site offers information such as how long a home has been for sale, its last sales price, and its current value. It also provides virtual tours to listed homes.
2) Trulia.com: Like Zillow.com, which offers satellite views and the estimated values of each home, Trulia’s “heat maps” show how hot or cold an area is based on prices, sales, and popularity among its users. Trulia.com also has free tools real estate agents can easily add to their own websites to increase functionality and traffic.
3) Maps.Google.com and Bing.com/maps: For a bird’s-eye view, even 360 degrees in some cases, these amazing map sites offer a virtual perspective of available homes that’s truly hard to beat.
4) Walkscore.com: Is an interesting site that rates any address based on the walking distance of its nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, coffee shops etc.
5) SchoolMatters.com: A Standard & Poor’s company, this site offers parents (and potential home buyers) an objective rating of public schools and public school districts by region, including test scores and demographics. GreatSchools.net offers similar info and ratings on private schools based on region.

Government Websites: Government loan programs offer great opportunities for many consumers in many regions across the country, especially first-time buyers and veterans. The following websites are likely one of the first of many sites potential home buyers visit during this process:

1) HUD.Gov is the official website for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) This site lists HUD homes and provides information for home buyers, including financing options and home buying programs available through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
2) Homeloans.va.gov: This site houses information about government home loan programs specifically for veterans.

Contact me  if you think of any more sites I should add to my list. I look forward to developing ways that we can grow our business together.