The article below appeared in the Savannah Morning News, it gives a short run down on the real estate market in the Savannah area. I will tell you that I have put 4 homes under contract since May 1 and expect at least three more contracts by the end of June. What I have run into is multiple offers on great home deals through out Savannah, Wilmington Island and Pooler. What does that mean for you? Is that some of the once in a lifetime deals are now becoming scarce. There is a great opportunity, but you need to be closed by November 30, that gives you less than five months to put a house under contract. It's time to get off the Fence. If you have any questions, please contact me at 843-338-9087 or 912-236-1000. No matter your area or your price ceiling I can help.
TIME TO GET OFF THE HOMEBUYING FENCE
by Arlinda Smith Broady
Anyone contemplating buying a house should turn that notion into activity, says the Georgia Association of Realtors.
The organization, made up of real estate agents throughout the state, is concerned that people who really want a house, qualify for a loan and have money saved are letting fear get in the way of fulfilling their American Dream.
"Buyers with good credit, a steady income and a realistic view of what they can afford are excellent candidates for a mortgage, even in our current market," said Molly Bridges, president of the Savannah Board of Realtors.
That's why the state Realtors association has launched its "Get Off the Fence" campaign to target potential homebuyers.
"These incredible interest rates won't last forever," said Steven Fischer, president of the Georgia Association of Realtors. "When the market comes back around - and it will, it always does - the consumers who got off the fence during this time will be so glad they did as they watch the value of their home rise with the lowest interest rates we've seen in over 50 years."
Tonja Hathaway, a loan officer with New South Federal Savings Bank, agreed.
"The market is shifting aggressively," she said. "Interest rates won't stay under 5? percent for long. I'd expect rates to increase anywhere from a percent to a percent and a half in the next eight months or so."
Her predictions have already proved true.
Mortgage rates rose this week to their highest levels in seven months as the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages moved further above 5 percent, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates had fallen in recent months as providers tried to entice buyers amid the housing market downturn.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.59 percent for the week ended Thursday, up from last week's 5.29 percent but down from 6.32 percent a year ago.
Low interest rates are among the main elements driving the buyer's market, which opens up a lot of options for homebuyers.
Contrary to perceptions, he said, conventional mortgages with competitive interest rates are still available.
Confessions of a fence straddler
Recent homebuyer Matt Hecht has first-hand experience on how timing is everything. He and his girlfriend, Jordan McCullough, spent nearly two years searching for the perfect house.
The young twenty-somethings began their search in the summer of 2007 with specific criteria: a fixer-upper, near the water, with plenty of room for their menagerie of critters.
They didn't think their standards were that unusual, but after four months of looking at close to 40 properties, they gave up and rented a house in Ardsley Park.
"The housing bubble in Florida had started to burst, and we wanted to be cautious," Hecht said.
Friends and family warned against getting into a house they didn't really like or couldn't afford. They kept up with real estate news and watched the market.
Last summer they decided to get back into the fray. This time they went with an agent who, they discovered, wouldn't just sell them a house. She looked out for their best interests.
"They had gotten into a bind with someone who didn't really explain the process to them and were grateful that I took the time to outline what a purchase and sale agreement really means and other important details when you're buying a house," said Jinan Cole, an agent with Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners.
Hecht and McCullough appreciated the way she took her time with them and decided to enlist her help in their search.
They took more than a year and looked at close to 50 houses until they found one that fit their needs. After a relatively painless negotiation, the couple closed on their new home in April.
"The moral to this story is that a client/Realtor relationship is based on trust, loyalty and perserverence," Cole said. "Sometimes it takes a while to get to the right house, and sometimes it takes a while to get to the right Realtor."
Fickle Fannie's folly
Making sure you have an agent who's committed to your best interests is key, said Sandy McCloud, a Realtor with Century 21 Fox Properties.
"Many people set out on their own looking for a house, but using a trained professional often helps you get a better deal and can assist when snags arise," McCloud said.
She recently helped a couple who had problems with a government agency when buying a house.
He enlisted McCloud's help in February. They found a Fannie Mae foreclosure that he loved.
A week prior to closing, McCloud received a "terse" e-mail via the listing agent from Fannie Mae's closing company stating that the property was listed in the wrong county. It had to be taken off the market and go through the foreclosure process again.
After investigation, McCloud found that it could take months before she would know if the home was going to re-list.
"We were devastated," Rodriguez said. "The house had a big yard, the price was right, and we didn't have time to wait on government red tape."
The Rodriguez family's lease was up at their apartment, and they needed a place to live. To add to their problems, the process of getting the appraisal, inspection and title work had cost more than $900 and Fannie Mae wasn't willing to reimburse Rodriguez for their mistake.
Fannie Mae initially said they were sorry but did not feel responsible because it's a "buyer beware, as is situation in foreclosures."
McCloud contacted U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston's office, and Fannie changed her tune and paid the expenses for a new house for Rodriguez.
"We found him another house and were able to close quickly," McCloud said. "He and his wife are very glad they used a buyer agent to help in this process, especially since there were many issues that arose that they would never have expected."
Why buy a home now?
New Tax Credit Available
A tax credit of up to $1,800 is available to purchasers of an eligible single-family residence in Georgia for homes purchased by Nov. 30.
First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides an $8,000 tax credit to eligible first-time homebuyers. The credit does not require repayment, and it will be claimed on a tax return to reduce the purchaser's income-tax liability. If any credit amount remains unused, the unused amount will be refunded as a check to the purchaser.
Unprecedented Incentives for New Homes
Builders are offering unprecedented incentives for new homes, such as flooring upgrades, new appliances and discounted financing.
Buyers who are pre-approved have incredible negotiating power. Financing options are available for those with a steady income and good credit. Sellers are pricing their homes more competitively.
Lower prices also mean a wider range of options from which to choose in a variety of locations.
Historically Low Interest Rates
Interest rates are at historic lows; lower rates equal lower payments or a larger home - you choose. Contrary to perceptions, conventional mortgages are available at favorable interest rates. Buyers with good credit, a steady income and a realistic view of what they can afford are excellent candidates for a mortgage, even in this market.
Building Wealth with Homeownership
Historically, homes are a solid long-term investment. For the past 40 years, real estate has delivered the most consistent positive return over any investment. When you buy a home, you are building equity and adding to your assets. According to the Federal Reserve Board, the average renter's net worth is $4,800, while the average homeowner's net worth is $171,000.
Source: Georgia Association of Realtors
Mortgage loan options
Loan agents suggest homebuyers talk with lenders about their options. Here are just a few:
USDA Rural Development
This is a 103 percent conservative, government-backed loan. It has restrictions on income and on the location of the property in relation to Interstate 95.
Obviously you have to be a veteran to qualify, but this loan offers a great way for buyers to get in and to pay off other debt. It's the only loan that allows a seller to contribute to pay down a buyer's debt to help them qualify for a loan.
Federal Housing Authority
This is a popular loan for first-time buyers and those who don't have a lot of money to put down. You only have to put down 3.5 percent in many instances because sellers are allowed to contribute up to 6 percent toward closing costs.
PEN HomeOwn program
The PEN program is backed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to assist Georgians who work as police officers, educators or nurses. However, anyone working in those fields, even if they're working in the kitchen of a nursing home or as an emergency dispatcher for ambulance drivers, could potentially qualify.
The loan is designed to provide down-payment assistance. Eligible borrowers may borrow $7,500 at 0 percent interest to use toward down payment, closing costs and other loan-related expenses while contributing only 1 percent of the sales price to the purchase.