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Weekly GungHo Real Estate E-zine

Weekly GungHo Real Estate E-zine

January 6, 2010

In this Issue:

Walter’s World: Moderately Priced Homes & Townhomes

Special Report: Shopping for a mortgage should get easier

Featured Article: Government aims squarely at consumer debt

Recommended Resources: Settlement Cost Booklet

Walter’s World

Unlike many areas in the country, the Jacksonville NC – Camp LeJeune  Real Estate Market has been quite stable especially in the under $200,000 properties. I continue to see builders moving down the price scale in what they are bringing to market. The Richlands area have several neighborhoods like Simpson’s Crossing and Turner Farms being built in the $130s to $170s range.

In Jacksonville, we see 2 new townhomes communities, The Gables and The Village at the Glenn, being built. These townhomes are priced in the $115,000 to $145,000 range. With mortgage rates moving up, this price range will be even more attractive as the year goes on.

Keep up with what is happening by subscribing to my Jacksonville NC Real Estate blog – you will receive updates on the Jacksonville Real Estate market, photos, videos, and community events. 

Special Report

 Shopping for a Mortgage Should Get Easier

With the arrival of a new year also came a new way to compare home loans.

On January 1, new rules went into effect, which mandate that all home loan applicants be given a new version of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Good Faith Estimate” form.

The new form is designed to clarify what home loans will actually cost, which should make it easier for borrowers to compare home loans. All lenders must disclose their fees and put them in the same places on the form.

In addition to interest rates, there are other costs associated with loans that should be compared. There are what are typically known as “origination costs,” which are the fees a lender charges, and there are “settlement fees” – such as appraisal fees, title insurance, etc. – that are part of the costs.

The new regulations require that lenders disclose these fees uniformly and then stick to them. For example, if you are quoted a $300 appraisal fee on a Good Faith Estimate form, you cannot be charged more than 10 percent of the price quoted.

The idea, HUD says, is to make it easier for consumers to do an apples-to-apples comparison of different loan products. In fact, on the third page of the three-page form, there is a place to do a side-by-side comparison of up to four different loans and recognize what is the best deal.

Sometimes, borrowers get so caught up in what the interest rate or monthly payment is that they lose track of other costs associated with a loan, and it becomes more expensive than they thought.

HUD’s new efforts to improve transparency and uniformity should help you find the best loan deal more easily.

Featured Article

Government Aims Squarely at Consumer Debt

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s efforts to help borrowers understand what costs they are getting into (see above), is just one example of the federal government’s primary target as the U.S. economy comes out of this recession.

Consumer debt.

It’s easy, of course, to blame the housing industry for the financial mess. And there’s no question, home buyers eager jump on the bubble bandwagon of rapidly rising home values took on loans they fundamentally could not afford, adding to the problem.

You probably have your own opinion about the government’s efforts to “modify” some of these loans, making them more affordable to those who carry them. You probably have your own feelings about the government bailing out the banks who made these loans, perhaps knowing that many wouldn’t be paid back.

But you should also be able to see that the government is trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The HUD Good Faith Estimate form is an example – the government is saying “protect the borrower” when it makes it harder for banks to hide real costs.

The credit card laws that go into effect in February also put consumer debt in their cross-hairs, aiming to eliminate some of the practices that keep credit card account holders in debt.

For example, card companies can no longer raise your interest rate on current balances if you are less than 60 days late on a payment. Also, after February, companies can’t charge a fee for going over a credit limit, unless the card holder has “opted in” to pay the charge for the convenience of being able to go over his or her limit.

NOTE: It will be important for you to pay attention to all your credit card mail – you might be required by your card company to opt in or opt out of various changes. Some card companies, knowing they can’t raise rates as often or for as many reasons as under the old laws, have raised rates now. You can opt in to the new rates, while you continue paying the old rate on current balances, or you can opt out, effectively canceling your card.

New regulations also call for parental permission for those under 21 to open new credit card accounts, and they also restrict the marketing credit card companies can do on college campuses. Lawmakers apparently understand that card companies want to get their claws into potential debt carriers while they are still young and impressionable.

Are these kinds of measures going to squeeze the credit of some who might not deserve to be squeezed? Perhaps. But it’s clear that the government views Americans’ willingness to go into large debt, or their irresponsibility with it – or both – as part of the financial problem.

And its solution is to take aim at that consumer debt.

Recommended Resources

Settlement Cost Booklet

HUD has published a pretty handy guide for home loan borrowers, titled “Shopping for Your Home Loan: HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet.” This 49-page booklet explains laws, procedures, costs, etc. associated with home loans. You can download this educational booklet at

Settlement Cost Booklet

Have a great week!

Walter Whitehurst
Keller Williams Realty

(910) 340-5524 Direct

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