Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Did you know you could use your VA Loan to purchase or refinance?

 Have you thought about using that eligibility?  If not...this Blog might be exactly what you need to know

VA Home Loan Advantages

The guarantee VA provides to lenders allows them to provide you with more favorable terms, including:
  • No down payment as long as the sales price doesn't exceed the appraised value.
  • No private mortgage insurance premium requirement.
  • VA rules limit the amount you can be charged for closing costs.
  • Closing costs may be paid by the seller.
  • The lender can't charge you a penalty fee if you pay the loan off early.
  • VA may be able to provide you some assistance if you run into difficulty making payments.
You should also know that:
  • You don't have to be a first-time homebuyer.
  • You can reuse the benefit.
  • VA-backed loans are assumable, as long as the person assuming the loan qualifies.
The maximum loan limit in Illinois with no money down is the limit is $417,000.

VA does not set a cap on how much you can borrow to finance your home. However, there are limits on the amount of liability VA can assume, which usually affects the amount of money an institution will lend you. The loan limits are the amount a qualified Veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a downpayment. These loan limits vary by county, since the value of a house depends in part on its location.
The basic entitlement available to each eligible Veteran is $36,000. Lenders will generally loan up to 4 times a Veteran's available entitlement without a down payment, provided the Veteran is income and credit qualified and the property appraises for the asking price.

There is also a VA Cash-Out Refinance Loan is for homeowners who want to take cash out of your home equity to take care of concerns like paying off debt, funding school, or making home improvements. The Cash-Out Refinance Loan can also be used to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan. VA will guaranty loans up to 100% of the value of your home as well as the ability to lower the interest rate on your current VA loan.

To check into all benefits available for veterans, go to

For specific information about VA home loans or refinances, check out:

The choice of lenders is yours but if you need a recommendation, I am happy to assist you with several names.  Two of the greatest advantages of this program is the zero down payment and no private mortgage insurance. In today's world, without 20% down, private mortgage insurance will now be charged on the life of the loan.  If you are a veteran, bless you for your service.  If I can provide additional information for you, a friend or family member, please give me  a call.

If this is the time for you to get moving...give me a call,
 I am always ready to provide you with absolute up to the minute information on your market area and what opportunities exist as a homeowner or investor.

 I will get back to you as quickly as possible with any and all information you require. 

At last...it is once again exciting to be your Realtor!

Friday, May 3, 2013


After several tough years it is refreshing to know the real estate market is getting stronger! Buyers have a sense of urgency when making a decision. Sellers are having more showings and shorter listing times!  Inventory is slimmer and interest rates are still crazy low!

 The well priced home in good condition is selling quickly.  Sellers need to put time and effort into preparing a home for the market because buyers are bringing all their money to the closing and often do not have much left over for renovation and replacement.  Home equity loans seem to be a thing of the past.  Most buyers are willing to do some cosmetic work like painting but immediate renovation of kitchens and bathrooms is often not in the budget.

 The home that is move-in ready, attractive and well staged is the one that takes the immediate contract.  Pricing based on current comparable sold properties in the neighborhood is equally important.  In order to get to the closing table, the property must appraise. 

We are once again seeing multiple offers, urgency in decision making, prices creeping up just a bit and new neighbors on the block.  All good news! 

If you are looking for a good agent contact me if I cannot help you in your area, I will tap into my network of Real Estate Professionals who will find the perfect home or investment property for you...quickly!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are Things Changing Out There?

Yes, the market is changing.  We are now experiencing a decline in inventory and the prices are slowly but surely rising.  The challenges this will create for homeowners of non-distressed properties who have decided they do not want to wait any longer to sell is ... can the property appraise?

We are already seeing evidence of this as we have in every market as prices increase on well maintained and improved homes when they are in the same neighborhood as distressed homes with lower price tags.  Buyers are reluctant to pay more for a home than "makes sense" based on comparable properties with similar square footage and location.  On the other hand, the non-distressed seller who has maintained and upgraded her home, is caught in a difficult situation.

Just as we, in the Real Estate industry, have had to educate sellers to the declining market, we are now educating buyers as they purchase homes that have the upgrades and amenities they desire.  There will not be as much flexibility in list to sale price in these homes.  Homes are selling at list and over list price.  Buyers will, in some cases, need to purchase a property that will not appraise but absolutely meets their needs.

Every buyer seeks out the best home in their price range based on the criteria they have established with their real estate professional. Although Realtors admit there is a wide range of how many homes the average buyer looks at before making a decision, they agree that once their list of wants, needs, and community is narrowed, there are only a few homes that match the list in the price range. If a buyer is willing and able to do the work on a "fixer-upper", a distressed property might be a good choice.  If the buyer can wait though the process of a short sale, they might be able to snag a good home for less than market value.  However, if they want a move-in ready home, the choice might be limited to a property that is priced at or over "market value"and they may have to adjust their thinking on what a fair price is for the home.

Change is good...challenging and always interesting!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ireland...Forty Shades of Green and Then Some....

nora and I
I just returned from a trip to Ireland.  Because I am interested in change, culture and all things Real Estate in other countries, I asked a lot of questions.  One of the major changes in Ireland now is that real estate sales will be reported so the competitive market analysis that we see as a matter of course will become available to potential buyers;  sellers will have a concrete basis for comparable sales when pricing their property.  It is difficult to imagine pricing a property without comparable properties, but somehow property has been bought and sold for a very long time without it. 

I am reminded that real estate values have suffered everywhere.  The same drop in home prices we are experiencing in the States is true in Ireland. The interest rate for purchase is under 5% but qualifying for a loan is difficult.  I was told "why is it that in order to get a loan, you must first prove you don't need one." I hear similar comments from buyers in the States.

The family homestead of my sister-in-law's mother is owned today by the widow of her brother.  That long connection with a piece of property is something we seldom see in the States. Noreen's home in Ireland has been lived in by members of the same family for generations. Nora's Aunt Kitty who is in her late seventies, shared the history of how the home had changed, been restyled and served the needs of not only a large family when she was growing up but frequent long term visitors and guests though the years.

The Irish are implementing a real estate tax on dwellings.  The initial amount is low and the actual plan for assessment is still a work in progress but it will put money into the treasury that is badly needed. A tax will also be assessed on water usage.  The water usage tax seems to meet little resistance except from those who have private wells.  Those homeowners paid to drill, connect and maintain a water supply into their homes.  They are angry; one homeowner I met said he would go to jail before he would pay such a tax.  The Irish are passionate rebels.  Change and added taxation is difficult for all citizenry.

The Irish have a great affection for Americans, it is said in Dingle (which is a favorite town of Rick Steves, one of America's Public television European travel guide) the next parish over from Ireland is Boston.  It is said St. Brendan discovered America long before Christopher Columbus.  True or not?  Who knows but the Irish have their legends.  Does it rain all the time in Ireland?  This summer has been particularly rainy, but my thought is that is why everything is so fresh and green.  We enjoyed rain with bouts of sunshine and felt perfectly content!

 The recession has impacted Ireland as significantly as it has the rest of the world.  The Irish have a way, however, or making taking things in stride, getting on with business and letting the visitor to their country feel welcome and appreciated. Nora's relatives could not do enough to extend their welcome and pride in showing off their country.    The pastoral countryside sectioned off with stone fences and hedgerows, the commitment to preserving the Irish culture with summer sessions for student to learn the Irish language and sports, their passion for soccer, hurling and Irish football...all of it makes a trip to Ireland a delight.

 My mother's maiden name was Shea.  I found many O'Sheas, but only a smattering of Sheas listed at the National Library's Genealogy service in Dublin.  I went to Ireland to learn more about my sister-in-law Nora's roots than my own, but in the end one cannot help but embrace the people, music, culture, food and 40 Shades of Green of the Irish countryside.  From clothes flapping on clothes lines, cows, sheep in pasture, single lane road, views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mt. Brendan  Ireland has a beauty touches the soul.  Visit when and if you can, you will be welcome!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Newest Trend...Becoming Landlords to Family Members

I am not sure this is the newest trend in real estate, perhaps it is an old trend resurfacing in a big way, but purchasing as an investor and renting back to a family member is BIG!  At least it has been a significant part of my business this year.  The interest rates are low; parents/grandparents might be sitting on a lot of equity in their present homes that is available at all time low rates as well.  Rents are high and rising along with the demand for rental property.  Knowing  family member who for many different reasons will be renting rather than purchasing a home in the present market makes for a perfect combination of landlord and tenant.

  In some cases, parents are paying for housing for a college student or new graduate.  Why not turn that into an investment rather than allowing someone else to collect the rent?  It may also be more cost effective to purchase.  Buying may cost less than renting and the investment write-off be a tax advantage.

  Of course, there will be things to negotiate not only with the seller but with the now
tenant/relative/child/sibling.  The mortgage rate for investors are a bit higher than that of the owner occupied and investor owned property might also have a higher real estate tax rate. The mortgage process for the investor is tedious and paperwork exasperating. In the end, there are many different ways to use resources, to invest and to be there for a family member, but providing one of the most necessary elements, housing is tangible and generous. I feel I am seeing a tread, each time I have witnessed it in my personal business it is a gesture of love and caring and it is deeply appreciated.  Something to think about....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Short Sales Getting Shorter

Good news regarding short sales. Starting June 15 lenders will have 30 days to respond to short sale offers and be ready to move forward within 60 days.  This is good news for buyers, sellers, Realtors and everyone involved in the sometimes frustrating and tedious process of getting a short sale from offer to closing.  It is not only good news for prospective buyers who will be choosing a property for their personal residence, but opens the door to investors who would like to purchase such a property but finds the current waiting period daunting. 

It seems as though the process of selling short sales may have moved beyond its infancy and into a mode that will get the home sold in a shorter time frame and everyone will benefit. Realtors also have become more knowledgeable about the process, sellers less fearful and more likely to check with their realtor or attorney about their options sooner.
Each step forward brings us closer to a more stable real estate market and closer to recovery.  Although we are not seeing a rise in prices, we are seeing multiple offers on properties.  Consumer confidence is rising; can rising home prices be far behind?

Check out this article from the New York Times for more information. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/realestate/mortgages-speeding-up-short-sales.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are We at the Bottom of the Market?

Who is the expert who can advise their clients that we are at the very bottom of the market and now is the perfect time to buy? If I had that knowledge, I would be sitting on a mountain in Tibet, however, I am seeing some very positive signs that the market is exhibiting great recovery symptoms.

In the last week, I have worked with two buyers who found their first choice homes under contract before they could write a contract. In one case, there were two very acceptable and appealing homes that were both sold when they wanted to go back for a second look. In the second case, after I made appointments for the evening, the home she liked best was sold that afternoon. Disappointment? For sure, but the focused purchase process is now in place and each of them has seen enough to recognize a good value that meets their needs may not be on the market two weeks from now.

Price and condition are still important components. Distressed properties are still in excess of 40% of the available inventory across the nation according to the National Association of Realtors. We are,however, we are seeing some lovely rehabs in affordable price ranges. Fannie Mae's HomePath mortgage option has taken over where relocation companies left off years ago by "renewing" foreclosed properties to make them attractive and affordable to buyers. They have also streamlined the purchasing process.

Is it difficult to qualify for a mortgage? Obviously, that is the first task of the focused buyer. Always see a lender before viewing properties. If you do not know who to call, call your Realtor for several recommendations. Secure your buying power and then go out and buy. There has never been a better selection and interest rates are low.Don't be one of those who will have to say "No one told me. I wish I knew." Of course, I am not the ultimate expert, but...this is the way I am seeing the market today.