November 2010 Vol. 5 No.11

• 5 Reasons to Be Thankful for the Current Real Estate Market • November's Home Value Improver • About Us

5 Reasons to Be Thankful for the Current Real Estate Market

I don't imagine the economy is something you'll be giving thanks for this season, but perhaps you should. At least as far as the economy relates to the housing and mortgage market, there are some real things to be thankful for!

  1. Did you say 4 percent?
    Perhaps the most exciting thing to be thankful for right now is the unbelievably low mortgage rates. I know I often preach that "it's not about the rate" and that if something seems too good to be true, it often is. But there's no denying that rates are historically low. Regardless of the type of loan you have - jumbo, conventional, 15- or 30-year, fixed or adjustable - you can get a fantastic rate. Just a couple of years ago, if someone had said mortgage rates would drop to the fours, people would laugh at you. Not so today.

    Of course, this is excellent news not only to prospective homebuyers, but also to current homeowners who want to refinance. After all, who can't use an extra few hundred dollars a month?

  2. Loads of inventory.
    Remember the early and mid 2000s, when home shoppers glared at other home shoppers at open houses, wondering which ones would end up in bidding war? People had to make quick decisions, overbid, and pounce on a house the minute it became available. Inventory was tight, prices were high, and people were going so far as to write pleading, and even heart-warming letters to potential sellers for the mere privilege of paying them a lot of money for their house. Those days are gone for now.

    Today's home shopper can take her time. She can look at a house at her convenience, investigate a neighborhood, and make an informed decision. Just look at the For Sale signs in people's yards and you'll see that inventory is high.

    Real estate agents report that good quality homes in desirable neighborhoods still go fairly quickly. What's different - and better - now is that there are no longer the insanely stressful bidding wars we've seen in years past.

  3. Builder discounts.
    Builders, especially those with completed houses that have not yet sold, are offering discounts to prospective buyers. People in the market for a brand new home often want to plan it themselves. However, if you walk into a recently built home mortgage pre-approved and make an offer to a builder, he may be open to an excellent price.

    Some experts say that builders are dropping their prices faster than homeowners. Homeowners may have the luxury of waiting for a good offer, but builders need to ensure sales to keep the business going.

  4. Flexible sellers.
    In 2004, I had a client have an offer accepted on a house in March, only to be told that the seller wanted a September closing. While the buyers were not thrilled with that far away closing date, they felt they had no choice. When the home inspection revealed page upon page of issues, the buyers chose the most important two or three and didn't mention the rest. In simple terms - the sellers had all the power. Buyers had to be thankful for the scraps they were tossed.

    Today, sellers are being more flexible about many aspects of the sale - closing dates, what they are willing to fix, etc. Some sellers will even throw in a closing cost bonus if the house has been sitting a long time.

  5. Brighter days ahead?
    I know I shouldn't put this in writing, but at this point real estate is actually a pretty good investment. I mean, prices can only go up from here, right?

November's Home Value Improver

Get Your House in Shape Before the Holidays

It's mid-November, so by now you've probably given up your pumpkin remnants to the squirrels and have begun gearing up for the holiday season. And you're not the only one who needs to get in shape for the holidays - your house does, too.

The first few weeks of November can feel like time is stretched out comfortably in front of you before the end of the year. But come the day after Thanksgiving and you realize you are suddenly up against it. If you don't take care of certain house maintenance projects now, you'll emerge from the holiday craziness and realize you are already well into winter's deep freeze. Take care of these five important items on your to-do list, and I promise you will feel virtuous and prepared when the holidays roll around.

  • Perform your furnace maintenance.
    Oil and natural gas are not cheap, so it's in your best financial (and comfort) interest to ensure that your furnace runs as efficiently as possible this winter. Call your service provider to have this annual maintenance.
  • Clean up the yard.
    Get all the old leaves off the lawn and aerate the lawn. If you can afford a local landscaper, you'll be amazed at how quickly they come and take care of the whole yard. If you have an underground sprinkler system, now is a good time to have that blown out.
  • Get your snow gear ready.
    If you're like many of my clients, you finally get around to tossing the ice scraper in the trunk sometime around July. Dig that ice scraper up and put it somewhere easy to reach in your car now so you're not scraping ice off the trunk with your fingernails some cold winter morning. Also be sure that your shovels or snow blower are ready to go.
  • Fix your roof.
    Small roof leaks can get worse in the winter, so if you think you have some roof issues, address them now before it is too cold and snowy for you or any roofers to go on top of your house.
  • Seal up the windows.
    Check all the windows in your house and make sure that they are as tight as possible. Sometimes, windows on upper floors that you don't think need to be locked slip a tiny bit from the top and let in cold air. Once they're all closed up tightly, you might want to add some stick-on insulation.

Westchester Mortgage

As Thanksgiving approaches, I would like to thank you for all you've given to Westchester Mortgage in 2010.

I work in a trust-based business and it's never been more important to have faith in your financial advisors. I am honored to have so many wonderful clients who trust me to help them make some of their most important financial decisions.

I am also grateful for the many referrals I've received from clients, colleagues, family and friends. There is no greater testament to your faith in me than your willingness to put your name on the line by referring me, and I appreciate it.

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you have about the current housing market and how you can make the best decisions about your home financing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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