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Credit News | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Some Great Ways to Take Advantage of an “Average to Good” or “Excellent” Credit Score
For those who achieve an “average to good” FICO score (660 and above) or an “excellent” score (740 and above), there are many ways to take advantage of this achievement by opening new doors for opportunity and savings. As a real estate/financing professional, you can share these tips with your client base to bring value added and allow your clients to do further business with you.
Here are some things those with great credit can take advantage of (but must be aware of the potential downsides):
● Transferring Credit Card Balances
Many credit cards can charge an exorbitant interest rate, and these rates coupled with debt can lead to large payments and wasted money. In fact, the average credit card debt in the US is currently over $6,500. Fortunately, those with great credit are eligible for a method to pay debt off rather quickly and easily. People with great credit should be eligible for a 0 percent interest rate on balance transfers, which essentially allows one to transfer credit card debt from a high interest card to a no interest account for a certain time period.
It’s important to note a few things when considering this option:
– Some of these cards will slap on a 3% fee for transferring balances, and you should make sure to find a card that doesn’t charge this fee.
– Opening new credit reduces your average age of credit which will drop your credit scores.  Do not open new cards if you plan on applying for a mortgage or loan  within 2 years since scores may drop substantially after opening new credit.  Make sure the cards you open are done strategically and not often.
●​ Credit Card Upgrades
High FICO scores will also make consumers eligible for the best credit card offerings. Many of the cards offered to those above a 660 score have better benefits, rewards, and perks unavailable to others. In addition, these cards often offer sign-on bonuses.  Clearly if your scores are above a 740 the perks are even better.   However, consumers have to make sure that they follow our tips when opening a new card in order to maintain their score (see the tips here) and should contact us with any questions.
●​ Home Refinance
Those with great credit can also take advantage of historically low home interest rates. With a higher FICO score, many can lock in a much better rate for their mortgage. Even a small improvement in interest rates can lead to savings in the hundreds of thousands over the life of a mortgage.
●​ Negotiating better interest rates or transfer offers with current credit cards
If you have existing cards and have excellent credit scores you can ask the creditor for lower interest rates or transfer offers on your existing cards.  This is great if you don’t want to reduce your scores by opening new credit.
● ​Requesting limit increases on current cards
The higher your credit limits the more leeway you have to charge without reducing your credit scores.  Since balance-to-limit ratios on revolving credit (credit cards) must be under 10% for the best score increases, it is great to have high limits.  Calling your creditor and asking for a limit increase can help your scores.  The creditor will pull your credit reports and scores for approval so the scores can drop a little from the inquiry.  If you have had many third party inquiries during the year it could drop scores significantly and it might be best to wait a year from the latest third party review.
Do you have any credit questions?
Tracy Becker, President
155 White Plains Road
Suite 200
Tarrytown, NY 10591
or  (toll free) 866-388-9400
F :(914) 524-5014 ​​

NAHB Updates Local Impact of Home Building Numbers | Bedford Corners Real Estate

In addition to studies customized to a particular area, NAHB has traditionally produced a “typical local” report using national average inputs.  This report—showing the jobs, income and taxes generated by residential construction in a typical local area—is available free to everyone on NAHB’s web site.

In April 2015, NAHB updated the typical local report.  A quick summary of the new numbers is as follows:

The updated estimates of the one-year impacts (including income earned during construction and the ripple effect that occurs when some of the income is spent) of building 100 single-family homes are

  • $28.7 million in local income,
  • $3.6 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
  • 394 local jobs.

And the annual, ongoing impacts (resulting from the home becoming occupied and the occupants participating in the local economy) are

  • $4.1 million in local income,
  • $1.0 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
  • 69 local jobs.

read more…

 

http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/04/nahb-updates-local-impact-of-home-building-numbers/

Most renters are not ready (or willing) to buy | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The rent may be too damn high, but it’s not enough to turn most renters into buyers.

The gap between rental costs and household income is widening to “unsustainable levels” in many parts of the country, new research published Monday by the National Association of Realtors found, “and the situation could worsen unless new home construction meaningfully rises.” In the last five years, a typical rent rose 15% while the income of renters grew by only 11%, the study found. The top markets where renters have seen the highest increase in rents since 2009 are New York (51%), Seattle, (32%), San Jose, Calif., (26%), Denver, (24%) and St. Louis. (22%).

“Many of the metro areas that have experienced the highest rent increases are popular to millennials because of their employment opportunities,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said in a statement. “With a stronger economy and labor market, it’s critical to increase housing starts for entry-level buyers or else many will face affordability issues if their incomes aren’t compensating for the gains in home prices.”

But most renters are reluctant to buy. Only 12% of current renters say they plan to buy a home within the next year, according to the latest “Housing Confidence Index” published last week by real-estate company Zillow, although this was up 25% on the previous year. On a scale of 1 to 100, with a reading of more than 50 indicating general confidence, the housing confidence index rose to 70.6 in January 2015, up 4.4 points over the previous year.

 

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http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-renters-are-not-ready-or-willing-to-buy-2015-03-14

Move Quickly through the Mortgage Approval Process before Rates Climb | #BedfordCorners Real Estate

If you’ve got the itch to ditch your landlord and take the leap to homeownership, mortgage rates are still low by historical standards. But beware because they are expected to begin creeping higher throughout the year.

“The cost of renting is really high right now. Rents have been rising and rising,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “Renters are getting squeezed, and some want to convert to ownership.”.

The NAR expects 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to average 3.80 percent in the first quarter. However, mortgage rates are forecast to start inching higher throughout the year. The NAR forecasts an average 4 percent rate in the second quarter, 4.3 percent in the third quarter and 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

Economic forces, including an improving U.S. labor market and faster economic growth, are conspiring to push mortgage rates higher this year. “The Federal Reserve is likely to raise short-term interest rates in the summer, which will be a signal for the rest of the market for rates to go higher,” Yun says.

“There’s a window of opportunity for buying and refinancing at crazy-low rates, but it’s closing,” says Gina Pogol, loan expert at Charlotte, North Carolina-based LendingTree.

If this is the year you want to sign on the dotted line and become a homeowner, experts have several suggestions to help you move quickly through the mortgage approval process.

The overall lending environment remains stringent, and the best mortgage rates will be awarded to those with higher credit scores. Your credit score is a three-digit number generated using information on your credit report, and generally, the higher it is, the better. Here’s what you need to do to get the best rates.

Mind your credit score. “Minimum credit scores required by lenders have steadily dropped, and mortgage insurers’ underwriting guidelines have also loosened a bit, but it’s still a little tough,” Pogol says. “Average FICOs of applicants approved for home loans continue to come down, but they’re still hovering around the 700 mark. Unfortunately, three-fourths of U.S. consumers have scores lower than 700.”

What’s an ideal credit score? “To get the best rate, strive for above 740. That is the benchmark for A-plus lending,” says Jeannie Meronk, assistant vice president and mortgage loan officer at First State Bank of Illinois.

Visit your lender before you hit the open houses. Create a game plan that makes sense for your budget. It pays to talk to a lender about what you can afford and qualify for before you fall in love with a home outside your price range.

“It is really important from a budget standpoint to be shopping in the right price range,” Meronk says.

Just because you qualify for a certain loan amount doesn’t mean that is what you should spend. Consider your monthly budget, and determine what level of monthly payment feels comfortable. Remember that there will be other costs relating to homeownership, including property taxes, maintenance and unexpected repairs.

Also know that most sellers won’t take an offer seriously unless you have been preapproved for a loan. “Preapproval means actually applying for a loan, having your credit checked and your income documented. Preapproved means that as long as the property meets the lender’s requirements, you can close,” Pogol says.

Don’t make any changes to your financial picture. Once you’ve been preapproved, this is not the time to open new credit cards, change jobs, transfer large sums of money or make big-ticket purchases using credit. “Once you are preapproved, don’t apply for any new credit. If you go ahead and finance furniture, it can mess up the amount that you were preapproved for,” Meronk says.

If you are fortunate enough to have a parent, in-law or relative who is willing to gift you some or all of your intended down payment, be sure to talk with your lender about this. You will need to document this properly with a letter for your lender.

If you are thinking of buying a rental property, however, gift money can’t be used toward a down payment. It only can be used for a primary residence, according to Meronk.

If you are self-employed, expect to jump through more hoops. Be prepared to provide two years’ worth of tax returns. If your income fluctuated from one year to the next, underwriters will average the income from the two years. Also, underwriters will look at your income after your business deductions have been taken.

“It often comes as a surprise to self-employed applicants that their gross income isn’t counted by underwriters. It’s their taxable income that’s used. So if you write off every meal and every vacation as a business expense, that comes off the top of your income,” Pogol says.

 

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http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/03/03/

Consumers Prices Fall 0.7% in January | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The consumer price index fell for the third straight month as the price of gasoline continued its sharp decline. The prices on expenditures made by urban consumers decreased 0.1% over the past twelve months before seasonal adjustments. According to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the consumer price index decreased 0.7% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis.

The energy price index fell 9.7% in January for seventh straight month-over-month decline. This was the largest month-over-month drop during that period. The driving force behind falling consumer prices and the energy index is the sharp drop in gasoline prices. The gasoline index, a component of the energy price index, fell 18.7% for the month and is down 35.4% for the year. The index for natural gas also fell for the month; dropping 3.4% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis.

The food index was unchanged in January on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis. Over the past twelve months, however, the food index increased 3.2% before seasonal adjustments. The food at home index increased 3.3% over the last twelve month with a large increase in the meats, poultry, fish, and eggs group of 8.7% for the year.

Core CPI, which excludes the more volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis. Over the past twelve months core CPI increased 1.6% before seasonal adjustments.

Chart1_CoreCPI

The shelter index rose 0.3% month-over-month in January after increasing 0.2% month-over-month in December. Over the past twelve months, the shelter index increased 2.9% before seasonal adjustments.

The increase in the shelter index partly reflects increases in rental prices; the BLS measure does not isolate the change in rental prices from the changes in the overall price index. NAHB constructs a real price index by deflating the price index for rent by the index for overall inflation. This measure indicates whether inflation in rents is faster or slower than general inflation and provides insight into the supply and demand conditions for rental housing, after controlling for overall inflation. When rents are rising faster (slower) than general inflation the real rent index rises (declines).

The growth in real rental prices continues to outpace growth in the CPI. The NAHB constructed real rent index increased 0.1% in January month-over-month. Real rental prices rose by 1.7% from one year ago.

Chart2_Rent

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/02/consumers-prices-fall-0-7-in-january/

Adjustable Rate Mortgages: It’s All About Timing | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Rate shoppers naturally gravitate toward the lowest quotes, but a lower rate can lead to financial trouble if you don’t understand your loan terms. It’s important to know the relationship between rates and fixed terms so you can determine when it’s appropriate to use a shorter loan term instead of a longer one.

A 30-year fixed mortgage rate is higher than a five-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rate because a financial institution is taking more risk to lend you the money for a longer period of time.

The reason for this goes to the root concept of how banks operate. A bank’s business model is to ensure that interest they collect on loans exceeds interest they must pay out on deposits.

Interest that banks must pay you on deposits rises as the economy expands, and falls as the economy contracts over time. It’s easier for banks to manage this interest rate risk in the short term.

For example, interest rates paid on checking and savings deposits are very low because you’re free to withdraw your money any time, while rates paid on certificate of deposit (CD) accounts are slightly higher because the bank requires you to keep those funds deposited for periods of one month to five years.

Because banks know  their expenses on deposits for periods up to five years, they know how to price mortgage loans up to five years. Today, many banks would pay you about 2.25 percent on a five-year CD, and they’d charge you about 3.25 percent for a five-year ARM.

But if you were getting a 30-year fixed loan, they might charge you about 3.875 percent — although these rates fluctuate. This rate is higher in order to compensate a bank for the interest rate risk they’re taking. Rates they must pay on deposits might be much higher during that 30-year period as the economy fluctuates, but your 3.875-percent mortgage rate is guaranteed.

Peg loan term to expected time in the loan

Let’s say you were buying a $300,000 home with 20 percent down, and chose the five-year term at 3.25 percent because the $1,044 payment sounded more affordable than the $1,129 payment on the 30-year fixed at 3.875 percent.

You must be aware that your rate is set for five years, then will adjust each year for 25 years. These adjustments protect the bank from interest rate risk by allowing the loan to move to a market rate when the five-year fixed period expires.

The initial fixed rate of 3.25 percent will change to a market rate comprised of a fluctuating index such as the one-year LIBOR rate (a benchmark for short-term interest rates worldwide) plus a base rate (called a margin) of about 2.25 percent. If the loan adjusted today, it would go down to 2.94 percent because LIBOR remains abnormally low — it was recently .69 percent — as the global economy struggles.

A more normal LIBOR rate is about 3.25 percent. Add that to the ARM margin of 2.25 percent, and your adjusted rate would be more like 6.5 percent, making your new payment in year six jump to $1,447 (which is calculated by amortizing the remaining balance at the five-year mark over the remaining 25 years of the loan).

This is $403 more than the payment on the initial five-year fixed period, and $318 more than the 30-year fixed you could’ve taken. And the loan will adjust to current LIBOR plus 2.25-percent margin once per year from that point forward.

It’s a lot of risk, and raises the question: How do you choose the right balance between the lowest rate and longest fixed term?

The answer is simple: Make sure your rate is fixed for as long as you expect to be in the home or in the loan.

If you know you’ll sell the home or pay off the loan in five years, a five-year ARM is appropriate. Other ARMs you can get have initial fixed periods of three, seven and 10 years, and rates rise as the terms lengthen. If you know you’ll be in the home or the loan longer than 10 years, then your safest budget move is to choose a 15-year fixed or 30-year fixed loan.

 

read more…

 

http://www.zillow.com/blog/adjustable-rate-mortgage-timing-170590

 

Inside Sunnyside Yards, New York City’s Next Megaproject | Bedford Corners Real Estate

In the past few weeks, the Sunnyside Yards has received an inordinate amount of attention from politicians and press, after being referenced as a possible development site for future megaprojects. Described as “a giant bowl of spaghetti,” this vast Queens train yard was included as one of the central proposals in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address, where he called for a platform to be built over the yards holding 11,250 new affordable apartments. Not to be outdone, Governor Cuomo soon responded by giving support to a different proposal for a new convention center above the tracks. Based on their enthusiasm for these projects, it remains doubtful that either politician has personally explored the entire complicated reality of this 180-acre rail yard.

A circumnavigation of the Sunnyside Yards on foot reveals how huge and complex any plan to build above it would be. Almost two miles long, the perimeter of the yard is surrounded by elaborate fences and intersected by numerous bridges, but its day-to-day operations are largely hidden from public view. What few vantage points there are show a multi-layered system where LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak and MTA trains wind and weave above and below ground, enmeshed in a web of power lines and ancillary tracks. Meanwhile, an equally diverse array of neighborhoods borders the edges of the yard, ranging from the post-industrial side streets of Long Island City to the still-industrial warehouses of Sunnyside and the charming residences of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District.

02_kensinger_sunnyside_yards_DSC_3570.jpg

Walking through this convoluted landscape, it becomes clear that any local pressure to develop on top of the Sunnyside Yards is largely coming from its northwest boundary, where the creeping tide of luxury towers has swept aside industry in Long Island City and reached the very edges of the tracks. In the narrow strip of land between Jackson Avenue and the yards, cranes and construction dominate the skyline, as century-old warehouses are demolished to make way for new residential behemoths. West Chemical and 5 Pointz have now been completely destroyed, Eagle Electric is being gutted and renovated, and several new glass boxes now loom over the yards. The potential creation of up to 28 million square feet of “new” land in the backyard of these projects would doubtlessly benefit some developers enormously.

 

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http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/19/

Off-the-Grid Island Home | Bedford Corners Real Estate

It was something like 25 degrees below zero one February in Winnipeg, Canada, when Holly McNally picked up the National Post newspaper and flipped to the travel section. A full-page story raved about Sidney Island, part of the Gulf Islands off the coast of Victoria and just south of Vancouver. Everything about it — the remoteness, the scenery — seemed to fit with Holly and her husband, Paul. “We got on a plane within days and went to check it out,” Holly says.

It was perfect for them, as well as their two Newfoundland dogs. So they snatched up a building lot and started designing an off-the-grid home with the help of Kim Smith, of Helliwell + Smith | Blue Sky Architecture. The result is a circular layout that captures views of the ocean while creating a sunny courtyard protected from the strong sea winds. It’s a place where Holly can finally garden (lacking this ability on the frozen clay prairies back home had frustrated her), and where Paul can build furniture in his woodshop. Plus, after retiring from the business they founded and ran, McNally Robinson Booksellers —one of the largest independent bookstores in Canada — they can finally kick back and enjoy a few good books. OK, a lot of good books.

Midcentury Miami Shores Ranch is All That | Bedford Corners Real Estate

This classic, early midcentury ranch-style house in Miami Shores may not be particularly big, at 2,320 square feet, and its restoration may have resulted in the loss of some midcentury touches (Was there once terrazzo in the marble-floored Florida Room? Did the bathrooms have colorful toilets?) but the result still shines. A roomy, open-planned layout with wooden floors and high, vaulted ceilings, and some original details like the house’s old fake fireplace (a space-heater would likely have been installed there originally) all work well together. A covered outdoor loggia with second fireplace (this one isn’t fake) flanks the pool, which is a turquoise blue rectangle in a simple green box; an outdoor room made of ever-so-nicely-trimmed box hedges. The three bedroom, two bath house is priced at $980,000

 

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http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/12/midcentury-miami-shores-ranch-is-all-that-for-1-million.php