Thursday, October 21, 2010

St George, Utah Safest City to Live In US

Being in a safe community is one of the most important factors that buyers consider when purchasing a home, condo or any other type of real estate. So where are America's most secure places to live? The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has released its third annual ranking of top 20 'Most Secure U.S. Places to Live'.

Bert Sperling, a database expert with, compiled the Farmers rankings based on data from 379 U.S. municipalities. Factors such as crime statistics, unemployment rates and risks of environmental hazards, terrorism threats, natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, were taken into consideration.

The communities were divided into three groups - large metropolitan areas (above 500,000 residents), mid-size cities (between 150,000 and 500,000 residents), and small towns (fewer than 150,000 residents).

According to the survey, the most secure community to live in the U.S. among large metropolitan areas are the adjacent communities of Boise City and Nampa (both in Idaho), which topped all large metro areas. Located among the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the area has one of the lowest unemployment rates and enjoys a wonderful climate.

Among the Mid-size cities, those with a population between 150,000 and 500,000, the safest community to live is Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces was the first among mid-size cities in low unemployment rate and favorable climate categories.

St. George in Utah topped all small cities with populations of 150,000 or fewer in the survey. The city has 110,515 residents who enjoy a mild climate, clean air and low annual precipitation. It also has the lowest crime rates of all the 379 communities surveyed. St. George stands first in employment rate among the 138 small towns in the Farmers study.

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How Much Home Can You Afford?

When people decide to buy a home, the monthly payment is a crucial factor. That’s why one of the most important questions that potential buyers consider is: How much home can I afford?
Affordability is a combination of home price, interest rate, and down payment. And with rates at historic lows, homebuyers have the opportunity to get more for their money….but if rates go up even a little bit they could miss out.
Here’s a simple formula that drives that point home. In simple terms, every 1 percent increase in home loan rates decreases the buying power of an individual by 10 percent in home price. This means that if you qualify for a home priced at $200,000 today and home loan rates increase 1 percent, the amount you could qualify for would be reduced to approximately $180,000 to maintain the same payment.
If you could benefit from moving to a new home, don’t let this time pass you by. By making a move now before home prices or rates increase, homebuyers can get more for their money and still get the payment they’re comfortable with. And, for those people who are thinking about refinancing, today’s situation provides you with the opportunity to reduce your house payment.

A Bargaining Asset….Most people make the mistake of initiating their quest for a new residence by searching for homes they like. However, the correct place to start is to determine how much you can afford—and that means meeting with a loan officer to get pre-approved for a loan. When you work with your loan officer to get pre-approved, the lender will review your income and assets and the terms of the loan to determine the actual loan amount you will most likely qualify for. This instantly lets you know what your actual budget is.
When you begin home shopping, knowing what you can afford from the outset sets the scope of your home-buying strategy and will help you and your real estate agent better focus your efforts to find the best home for your money.
In a real estate market such as this one, your pre-approval letter becomes an incredibly powerful bargaining tool. While it is generally accepted that the current real estate market is a buyer’s market, home sellers are still being cautious about accepting offers, because so many buyers’ funding can best be described as “tenuous.” The last thing they want is an offer from a seller that doesn’t truly have the necessary funding.
With a pre-approval letter, the seller can have complete confidence that the offer you make will be one they can rely on. That kind of peace of mind can often result in a very happy transaction for buyer and seller alike.
Information courtesy of Jeanne Fenwick-Wall/WJ Bradley Mortgage Capital Corp.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Local Foreclosure News

Although the region has experienced thousands of foreclosures among all property types, it is believed that the region is poised to experience a sustained flood of distressed properties hitting the market until about 2013, according to Allan Carter of SUTC Developer Services. He further states that banks halted a number of foreclosures in recent months amid growing fears that saturating the market with additional distressed properties would result in further price drops.
Washington County’s foreclosure rate was 4.15 percent in July, surpassing the national average of 3.13 percent and the Utah rate of 2.22 percent for the month, according to the most recent data available from CoreLogic, a California-based real estate research group.
While thousands of distressed properties are set to hit the market, Carter said investors and individual buyers would likely absorb the additional inventory, as bargain pricing drives demand for bank-owned properties in Southern Utah. “There are enough people that are aware of the home sales going on,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to see prices go down in St. George even with the influx of additional properties.”
Scott Kerbs/Spectrum


Bank of America is halting foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states after revelations that paperwork wasn't being closely examined.
The nation's largest bank will stop foreclosures beginning Saturday, October 9th, a week after announcing it would suspend action in 23 states. The bank said it won't end the moratorium until a review of its practices is complete.
Congressional leaders have called for a suspension of all foreclosures following the discovery of problems with "robo-signers," middle managers who sign affidavits allowing banks to repossess homes that are in default without fully reviewing the documents.
Several managers have admitted in depositions that they signed off on thousands of foreclosures without looking at much more than the date on the forms.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based lender is the first to stop proceedings in all 50 states. J.P. Morgan Chase and Ally Financials GMAC Home Mortgage division have put foreclosures on hold in about half of the country.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Oversight Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), along with other lawmakers including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have called for a halt of activity in their states and nationwide.
Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this week that the mortgage division of the Financial Fraud Task Force is investigating the problems.
By Vicki Needham/On The Money—The Hill

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is It Better To Buy Or Rent?

Until recently, the perennial real estate question of whether to rent or buy was dead. During the boom years, the question was largely irrelevant as people refused to pay ever increasing prices for already expensive real estate. But now that national home prices have slid substantially and potential buyers are being more cautious, the debate has been reinvigorated.
Unlike home prices, rents tend to rise or fall just a few percentage points each year. Economists generally hold that anything below 15 times the annual rent is a buyer-friendly city.
Individual circumstances matter—people in higher tax brackets, for example, may get more bang for their purchase buck because they are able to deduct more interest costs and property taxes. And, once people purchase, their home-buying costs tend to be fairly stable. Fixed-rate loans don’t go up (although taxes and maintenance costs can.) Rents usually do.
Buyers often feel more invested in their communities, more likely to put down roots, make friends and join local organizations. Home ownership often brings them pride and joy. CNN


Fannie Mae released its latest National Housing Survey and found that consumers have a mixed outlook on housing. The majority of consumers surveyed (67 percent) continue to believe that housing is a safe investment.
Nearly half (47 percent) think that home prices will hold steady over the next year while nearly one-third (31 percent) think prices will rise.
70 percent think this is a good time to buy a house, compared with 64 percent in a similar survey that Fannie Mae conducted last January.
These findings indicate the return of a more balanced and realistic approach to housing. This approach may weigh on the housing recovery in the near-term, but over time, it should help to build a stronger and healthier market focused on sustainable homeownership.