Home values rise highest in 6 years

St Paul, MN:  In the Twin Cities area, home prices, including distressed sales, also increased by 6.3 percent in October compared with October 2011, according to the Core Logic. This is the largest yearly gain since July 2006.

On a monthly basis, Twin Cities home prices, including distressed sales, decreased 0.2 percent in October compared with September.

Distressed sales refers to a home being sold for less than is owed on the sellers’ mortgage, or homes sold through a foreclosure.

Excluding distressed sales, prices increased by 7.3 percent in October compared with October 2011 and increased by 5.8 percent in September compared with September 2011.

Nationally, Core Logic said Tuesday that prices declined 0.2 percent in October from September, the second monthly U.S. drop after six straight monthly increases. The monthly figures are not seasonally adjusted. The California-based real estate data provider says the decline reflects the end of the summer home-buying season.

In the Twin Cities, excluding distressed sales, Core Logic said home prices increased by 0.5 percent in October compared with September.

Steady price increases are helping fuel a housing recovery. They encourage more homeowners to sell their homes. And they entice would be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.

Home values are rising in more states and cities, according to the report. Prices increased in 45 states in October, up from 43 the previous month. The biggest increases were in Arizona, where prices rose 21.3 percent, and in Hawaii, where they were up 13.2 percent.

In 100 large metro areas, only 17 reported price declines. That’s an improvement from September, when 21 reported declines.

Mortgage interest rates are still  hovering near record lows, while rents in many cities are rising. That makes home buying more affordable, pushing up demand. (Check today’s interest rates)

And more people are looking to buy or rent a home after living with relatives or friends during and immediately after the Great Recession.

At the same time, the number of available homes is at the lowest level in 10 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The combination of low inventory and rising demand pushes up prices. (view homes for sale)

Last week, an index measuring the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in October jumped to the highest level in almost six years. That suggests sales of previously occupied homes will rise in the coming months.


Tips for successful refinancing

TIPS FOR REFINANCING

Minneapolis, MN:  As homeowners rush to take advantage of the new HARP program and some of the lowest mortgage rates in history, it’s easy for them to get lost in the refinance stampede. That’s why it has never been so crucial for borrowers to understand the refinance game, and how to make the most of their application.

LENDERS OVERWHELMED
First, understand most lenders are overwhelmed with the high volume of refinance applications they have received since mortgage rates recently tumbled. Loans that went from application to closing in 30-days, are now running at least 45 days, and for most banks, upwards of 90-days. Online applications that were looked at within hours, now may take a few days before the lender calls you back.

MAKE GOOD LENDER CHOICES
Your mortgage lender choice is more important than most people realize. Generally speaking we suggest you deal with a local lender.  There is nothing some out-state lender advertising super low mortgage rates and with a fancy web site can offer that you can’t get down the street. Choosing your current lender very often is not the cheapest and easiest deal. Rather, just the opposite, as they know so many of their current clients call them without shopping.

ADVANCE PREPARATION
To speed up the process, borrowers should begin to assemble the standard loan paperwork as soon as they decide to apply for a loan. The minimum documentation for a mortgage loan everyone will need is; their two most recent pay stubs, or last two years tax returns if self-employed.  Their last two years W2’s, photo ID, and their last two banks statements.

DON’T DELAY
Once you lock a great interest rate, get the documents to the lender within a day. One missing document, or any delay by the borrower in providing s requested documents by the lender could easily add significant delay or problems with your refinance. As a borrower, you need to make sure once you lock an interest rates, you drop everything and respond to any lender request. Loan processing is first-in, first-out. Sign your paperwork within a day, and let the appraiser in your home as soon as humanly possible. Underwriting won’t even begin until they had your signatures and the appraisal in hand.

TALK TO THE LENDER
Borrowers should also ask their lenders upfront for a time frame on when they should expect to close on the refinance loan and lock their rate accordingly. Once the initial signatures and documents have been submitted, there will be a waiting period when there’s not much the loan officer and the borrower can do. Even during that time, borrowers should not be afraid to check on the progress of their refinance. Checking in once or twice a week is pretty reasonable to make sure your refinance application is on track. Underwriters may ask for additional documentation once they get to your file, so it’s important to stay in touch with your loan officer and be diligent.

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