Archive for December, 2009

Home prices rose in October — 5th straight month

According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices rose in October, marking the fifth month in a row they’ve done so — it’s up 3.4% from May (when it hit bottom).

That’s the good news. The bad news is that prices are still lower (7.3% lower) than they were a year ago.

The other bad news is that the Washington, D.C., metro area (the only one in or near Virginia the index tracks) is down 0.4% from September, after being up from August. On the other hand, D.C. is only down 2.8 percent over last year.

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Va Homeowners Alliance posts for December 22, 2009

  • Teleworkers Would Get Tax Break Under Bill
    Some state leaders are working for a bill that would allow telecommuters to get an annual tax credit of up to $1,000 for teleworking, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

    This tax credit could…

    Click headline to read the full story.

VAR phones and internet affected December 23

VAR’s phone and internet service is being switched to a new provider tomorrow (December 23) and an outage is expected for at least part of the day. Phone service and online event registration will be affected.

New Good Faith Estimate
New Settlement Statement (HUD-1)
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development approved  (some time ago) two updated forms that are CENTRAL to the real estate transaction.  These two new forms will go into effect on January 1, 2010:

The new forms (and accompanying rules) are intended to help home buyers (who are obtaining mortgages) to better understand and compare their mortgage options.  In theory, this will allow them to obtain better loan terms, lower interest rates, and lower settlement charges (closing costs).

The new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is now a standard form across all lenders.  In the past a borrower would receive a GFE with a different format from each lender that they visited — each having a slightly different set of disclosed loan terms, or vocabulary for referencing such terms.  Now, a buyer can compare two proposed mortgage scenarios from two different lenders and be able to quickly and easily compare the exact same terms from each.  I see this as a huge improvement for the financing process (for buyers), as in the past there has often been much confusion about how to determine which proposed loan program is better than the other.

Here is an excerpt from Page 1 of the new Good Faith Estimate, which (surprisingly?) is quite intelligible!

Good Faith Estimate - Page 1 Excerpt

But there’s more!  Beyond a buyer’s (borrower’s) loan terms and closing costs being easier to comparison shop, and easier to understand . . . there is also more accountability on the lender to make sure that those terms and costs stay intact through to closing.

Some of the costs CANNOT change from the Good Faith Estimate, others can only change by a certain percentage, and others that can change without limit.  This is a big improvement from current HUD guidelines whereby there was no guarantee that any of the closing costs or loan terms from a Good Faith Estimate would be carried through to closing.

I believe the financing process will be much easier for buyers to navigate as we move through 2010!

Blog Brawl 4 Winner!

December’s Commonwealth Online is, er, online

In case you missed the SMTP version of Commonwealth Online, delivered to your e-mail inbox on Tuesday this week, here’s the HTTP version for your reading pleasure, as well as the top five most-clicked links (as if you care what other people think):

Clicks you might have missed:

NAR releases Q3 market reports for Virginia Beach and Washington DC

Right click to download the reports:

More market data resources (a normal left click will work on these):

HUD releases webcast on final RESPA rules

New RESPA rules go into effect on January 1, 2010. Get the skinny on the new HUD-1, GFE and other new rules in this new webcast from HUD (streaming Windows Media file).

Va Homeowners Alliance posts for December 16, 2009

  • Norfolk Officially Takes Over the USS Wisconsin at Nauticus
    The Navy has finally granted owernship of the USS Wisconsin to the city of Norfolk, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

    The city will take over and begin working to make the entire ship open to the…

    Click headline to read the full story.

  • Fourth Lane of I-95 Northbound Opens in Northern Virginia
    A new, fourth lane opened today on northbound I-95 just beyond the Occoquan River, and another southbound lane will open next year according to the Free-Lance Star.

    This will be a welcomed gift to…

    Click headline to read the full story.

  • Some Richmond Businesses are Succeeding in Recession
    Some local businesses in Richmond have made some changes to keep their business alive and strong during the recession, according to NBC12.

    This is great news for area homeowners because strong…

    Click headline to read the full story.

  • Tazewell Planning Commission Reviews Potential Tax Impact of Windmills
    County officials in Tazewell recently meet to discuss how the windmills could be taxed to help them make their decision on welcoming windmills into the county.

    Bringing windmills to Tazewell could…

    Click headline to read the full story.

  • Sewer Systems Raising Westmoreland Property Values
    Great news for homeowners in Westmoreland County, many have seen property values increase by an average of 21 percent, according to The Free-Lance Star.

    This is in thanks to a new sewer…

    Click headline to read the full story.

Blog Brawl voting ends 12/17

(Updated ’cause I got my ante- and post-meridian confused. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.)

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