“Conventional wisdom is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. 80/20 wisdom is to choose a basket carefully, load all your eggs into it, and then watch it like a hawk.”
— Richard Koch: is a former management consultant, entrepreneur, and writer
WHO’S THE QUARTERBACK?
Given that it’s Superbowl Week, I thought we might go with a football theme today. I can’t tell you how many different people I hear proclaim that they are the quarterback of the real estate transaction – the agent, the loan officer, an attorney, accountant or financial planner. But for goodness sake, the buyer/borrower had better be the one calling the shots. Not that everyone else doesn’t play an important role, but the buyer/borrower is the one most impacted by the choices made.
How the team works best:
• Head Coach (Your Loan Officer) – Your loan officer should be the Head Coach. After careful analysis of your income, credit and assets, this is the person in the best position to make sure you are playing to your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. Your loan officer can discuss the economic realities of homeownership, while listening to your quality of life concerns. (How often you’ll be able to eat out or vacation, for example.) The loan officer can set up the game plan.
• Offensive Coordinator (Your Real Estate Agent) – Your real estate agent is your offensive coordinator. Armed with the game plan (which includes your limitations), the agent calls the plays, counseling you on the geography, the competition, the best ways to negotiate your way to your personal touchdown. Agents know the playing field (the inventory and the market). If you hire them to represent you, they can disclose the weaknesses of your competition (the seller).
• Offensive Line (Your Attorney, Accountant and Financial Advisors) – Your attorney, accountant and financial advisors are your offensive line. They are there to protect you from the blitzes that come from outside (sellers, title issues, tax consequences, and protecting your assets). Not the glamour positions, but vital to any success you are going to have.
• Running Backs and Wide Receivers (Your Friends and Family) – Your friends and family are the running backs and wide receivers. They often receive the glory and attention, but honestly, if everyone else doesn’t do their job, they rarely ever see success. Bad game plans, weak play calling, poor execution on the offensive line or by you, as quarterback, leave them merely as names on the roster.
As with any team, communication is the most important component to getting the desired results. Being the center of the action on the field, the quarterback (you) needs to honestly talk with your coaches and coordinators, so they can help direct you on the proper play calling. Simultaneously, you need to heed the feedback from your offensive line, running backs, and receivers to filter wise advice from emotion. Be the quarterback of your own home-buying process and you’ll be more likely to realize your dreams (and not the dreams of someone else).
IS IT TIME FOR YOUNG FAMILIES TO BUY A HOME?
It has been reported that almost six million adults between the ages of 25 to 34 are currently living with their parents. That number reflects an almost 50% increase since 2003. These young adults are now being advised to jump into homeownership.
Who are the people selling them on the American Dream? Their parents! It seems that parents of some adult children are strongly suggesting that their children take advantage of the low cost of homeownership available today. Some moms and dads are helping financially and are even co-signing for the mortgage. Middle age parents who have owned a home understand its true value. A home has always been a good long term financial investment. However, homeownership also has many other benefits.
In Fannie Mae’s most recent National Housing Survey, they asked the question directly: Is this a major reason to buy a home?
The study broke up the answers into financial and non-financial reasons. The top four reasons and six of the top ten reasons were NON-FINANCIAL. The top four are below:
1. It means having a good place to raise children and provide a good education.
2. You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe.
3. It allows you to have more space for your family.
4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space (renovations & updates).
Should this surprise us? Aren’t these the same reasons our parents bought their home? Aren’t these the same reasons we purchased our home? These are the same reasons parents have suggested their children buy a home. They want the same things for their grandchildren that they believed to be important for their children.
And today, the cost of homeownership is at all time lows:
“The numbers on housing have an important message for American families today, and particularly younger families setting out on life’s great adventure: Five years ago, at the peak of the home-buying euphoria, it was emphatically a time to rent. Today, when home ownership is depreciated more than ever before, the numbers tell us it is a time to buy.”
“[S]omeone who plans on staying put for seven years would come out ahead by about $9,000 if they bought a median-priced home rather than being a tenant in a median-priced rental.”
“Homes today are more affordable for average families than they have been since 1971. Median-income families today have nearly double the funds needed to purchase the average home.”
Now that the economy is beginning to show signs of stabilizing, people are getting back to the core values that families have always embraced. Homeownership is definitely high on that list. And today, from a financial standpoint, it may be the opportunity of a lifetime.
OBAMA REFI PLAN WOULD HELP NON-GSE-BACKED BORROWERS
In the details released today, President Barack Obama fleshed out a proposal he announced in his State of the Union speech to boost the housing market by helping more underwater home owners than are currently being served by lenders.
The President said he wants to make the federal government’s existing mortgage refinance program, called HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) available to more home owners. It’s currently available to struggling borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For these borrowers, incentives are provided under certain conditions to make refinancing more attractive.
1.) More underwater home owners would be able to tap federal refinance assistance than can do so today,
2.) mortgage servicers would be restricted in their ability to foreclose until after they’ve exhausted efforts for borrowers who’ve make a good-faith effort to modify their mortgage, and
3.) efforts to reduce the inventory of foreclosed homes through bulk sales to investors for use as rental housing would be tried in a pilot program.
Under the new proposal, HARP would be expanded to include borrowers with loans that aren’t backed by Fannie and Freddie. These are the borrowers whose loans were securitized in private-label securities without any federal backing, and they would be allowed to refinance into FHA-backed loans, the same as the Fannie and Freddie borrowers. The administration has estimated that borrowers would save $3,000 a year in mortgage costs.
To be eligible, borrowers would have to have made their mortgage payments over the last six months with only one delinquency, and their loan amount couldn’t exceed the FHA loan limit for their area. If borrowers owe more than 140 percent of the value of their home, the lender has to agree to reduce the loan balance. Also, borrowers wouldn’t have to submit a full file of paperwork for the refinancing as long as they can verify their employment. The proposal also would enable borrowers who still have equity in their home — up to 20 percent — to participate.
The changes will require legislation, so Congress will have to agree to them for the expanded program to take effect.
In his State of the Union speech last week, Obama said he would pay for the expanded program using a fee charged to the country’s largest banks so the initiative wouldn’t add to the deficit. But some members of Congress have said they oppose charging banks a fee to cover the cost.
The Obama plan would also introduce a Bill of Rights for home owners, part of which is intended to smooth the mortgage modification and foreclosure processes, which today can be contentious and difficult for borrowers to understand. A key part of this is an effort to curb banks’ practice of undertaking a mortgage modification while at the same time proceeding with a foreclosure — a process called dual tracking. Before they can start foreclosure, banks will have to show they took all reasonable steps to modify a borrower’s mortgage.
To help ease inventories of foreclosed homes, the plan would give a green light to Fannie Mae to implement a pilot program to make foreclosures available to investors in bulk purchases for conversion to rental housing. Under the pilot, Fannie would package for sale foreclosed homes in a limited number of markets and require them to be used as rental properties for a period of time.
NAR has concerns with this proposal and has been talking with federal regulators to ensure that the program is carefully tailored to the communities who can truly benefit from it, that small- and medium-sized investors be able to participate, and that real estate professionals continue to play a role in the disposition of the homes.
In a statement released after the President outlined the details of his proposal, NAR said it’s urging the regulator of Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, “to proceed cautiously with the REO-to-rental program since housing markets are complex and varied.
“NAR believes an overly aggressive REO-to-rental program that is not privately administered by local entities and does not involve substantial participation of local market experts, especially licensed real estate professionals, could be disruptive and counterproductive to communities already suffering from high foreclosure inventories and lower housing values.”
FIRST-TIME BUYERS MORE WILLING TO COMPROMISE
When it comes to space and upgrades, first-time home buyers are more willing to compromise than repeat buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2011 “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.”
While they have big wish lists too, first-time buyers seem to be most driven by finding a home that offers a reasonable monthly mortgage payment.
“Single home buyers tend to value affordability above all when they are choosing a home and a neighborhood,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s manager of member and consumer survey research. “They also focus more on living some place convenient to friends and family, as well as entertainment and leisure activities.”
The median age of first-time home buyers is 31, and about 26 percent are married with children.
First-time home buyers tend to rate energy efficiency high on their wish list, as well as simple, no-hassle technology use in their house, the study finds.
But “even if they like the idea of solar panels, first-time buyers are not likely to spend an extra $20,000 to have them,” says Stephen Melman, director of economic services for economics and housing policy for the National Association of Home Builders.
First-time buyers also are willing to compromise on space: The median-size of a home purchased by a first-time buyer is 1,570 square feet.
Overall, “the top three things that buyers want are a great room instead of a formal living room, a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, and a laundry room,” says Melman. “First-time buyers want the same thing, but they are more likely to be satisfied with a small laundry room without an attached mudroom and with a smaller master bedroom and a smaller walk-in closet.”
But one thing first-time buyers aren’t as willing to compromise on: Buying a home that needs a lot of repairs.
“Buyers that don’t have any experience with home maintenance tend to be afraid of renovations, so home sellers should be sure to fix everything they can and make minor home improvements in order to appeal to first-time buyers,” Melman says.
TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Feb 2; Who’s The Quarterback?; Is It Time For Young Families To Buy A Home?; Obama Refi Plan Would Help Non-GSE-Backed Borrowers; First-Time Buyers More Willing to Compromise