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(Birmingham, AL) The most recent fallout from the mortgage crisis that began last summer is now rearing it’s ugly head in the form of Fannie Mae approved loans that cannot get insured by Mortgage Insurance companies.

Mortgage insurance companies, spurred on by recent recommendations in congress, are tightening their credit standards for providing insurance. Without mortgage insurance, borrowers are forced to provide a down payment equal to 20% of the purchase price of a home – something very few home buyers can afford to do. Just this past week, mortgage insurance companies raised their credit score requirement to 620, effectively cutting out 50% of home buyers from the home buying market. The move came unnanounced and without any notice to lenders or to Fannie Mae.

In fact, lenders are still approving loans that meet Fannie Mae guidelines for purchase in the secondary market, but then find, just before closing, that there is no mortgage insurance available to insure the loan. Without insurance on money loaned that is over 80% of the value of the property, the loan is declined. Buyers that have a “loan approval” from a lender should immediately ask their lender if the lender can get their loan insured. Otherwise, homebuyers could spend hundreds and even thousands in the days leading up to the closing only to find, at the last minute, that loan insurance is not available to them.

This move by the Mortgage Insurance companies will only add fuel to the fire that is the current US Housing market. By effectively eliminating more home buyers from the market, at a time when the housing market needs more buyers, not fewer, the mortgage insurance companies have put another nail in the coffin of the housing market. The resulting effect on the market will be an even bigger drop in home prices. The immediate impact of this new policy will be felt quickly in the market, not over time as has been the case with loan defaults, adjusting loan interest rates, and foreclosures.

Be forewarned: if you are a seller, drop your price now before the market itself forces an even larger price reduction. If you are a home buyer, your credit score must be above 620 or you cannot get a loan.

VA Loan Secrets YOU need to know

The Veterans Housing Act allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to guarantee a home or mobile home loan. While eligibility is still determined by VA, the benefits vary depending on when you served in the military and the type of service. While those currently or previously on active duty are allowed benefits after serving anywhere between 90 days to 24 months, depending on the year, reservist and national guard members never called to duty, will need to contact VA to determine eligibility.

While most consumers feel VA gives a borrower a loan, VA only guarantees loans in case of default. Loan approvals are made on their behalf by approved lenders. VA does require all homes be appraised by a VA roster appraiser and there are only special circumstances in which VA reviews a loan for credit determination.

VA Home financing allows 100% financing, 4% seller contribution, limits what a borrower can pay in the form of closing costs, provides excellent interest rates and does not require perfect credit. A VA loan will consider approval for a borrower with no credit. It is by far the best loan program available, and it is only for veterans.

Open Houses in Birmingham!

Now there’s an easy way to find the open houses in the Birmingham, AL area with just the click of your mouse.

Weichert, Realtors – Access Realty has just launched

Tune in to every week to see where the open houses are going to happen. You would drive around looking but it’s a lot easier with a map.

You can also custom design your own Open House Home Tour!

Curb Appeal: What is it and How Important is it?

The last thing you want to have happen when you have your home up for sale is for people to drive up and have a look, and then drive off…nver to return again. Why did they leave?

Your home could have been the wrong style or have the wrong exterior finish. But in all likelihood, it was curb appeal.

Curb appeal is one of those magic phrases used by real estate people that means a lot of things. It could be the home itself, or they could be referring to the landscaping. Curb appeal, in is simplest form means the overall balance and harmoney of everything the eye beholds while sitting at the curb and viewing the property. If it is eye appealing and alluring, they will want to come inside and have a look around.

The amount of curb appeal your home has will determine how much inside traffic you get to the home (outside traffic doesn’t count). Inside traffic into the home is what it takes to sell it. So, curb appeal will ultimately effect how much your home sells for…or if it will sell at all.

So what makes up curb appeal and how do you get it?

The Structure

Your home must appear to be in top condition and well maintained. The paint must look fresh and unblemished. Gutters must be straight and in good repair. Doors should be square and fit in their frames perfectly. Anything that looks out of the ordinary needs to either be removed, repainted, or fixed.

The Yard

The lawn should be mowed and edged, and GREEN in the spring, summer and fall. Everything that blocks the view of the home needs to be trimmed or removed. This includes bushes, shrubs, trees, etc. If people cannot see the home, they will not want to come inside. All shrubs and bushes should be manicured and shaped. Flowers and bark or mulch needs to be new and replanted if necessary. Your job is to make the yard look picture perfect BEFORE you put it up for sale. Trim all low hanging branches that interfere with the street view of your home.

If you do not want to do all of the work, hire a landscaping contractor to come up with a plan. You will be more than rewarded for what you spend in the eventual sales price of your home.

Curb appeal increase the traffic to the inside of your home. And, if people don’t come inside, they won’t buy it. Your agent can get people to at least take a drive by your home. It’s up to you to make them want to come inside.

Alabama Real Estate in Recovery

(Birmingham, AL) The Alabama real estate market is already recovering from recent lows. Evidence is everywhere.

Inventories of property on the market hit an all time high at the end of november 2007 into the first of December 2007. Since then, the inventory of property for sale has been shrinking. This is always the first sign. As property inventories decrease, the demand for property rises. This causes price support and shores up values.

Mortgage applications, or new people applying for a home loan, increased 12% just last week. This is yet another sign that more buyers are entering the market to buy a home. If you combine this with the fact that inventories are shrinking, it doesn’t take a genius to see that values will stop declining soon and prices will again start to rise.

pre foreclosure short sale