What are the Basic Requirements for an FHA Loan?

FHA.com recently posted a great article on FHA loans requirements which should help out those searching for new Birmingham homes for sale:

The basic FHA requirements to be eligible for an FHA home loan are simple; applicants must be lawful residents of the USA and be of legal age to sign a mortgage. (That age may vary by state–check with your loan officer when in doubt.) The borrower must also be willing to certify they intend to live in the home purchased with an FHA mortgage.

Up front mortgage insurance is required with FHA loans, and qualified borrowers are eligible for approximately 96.5% financing. The borrower is able to finance the upfront mortgage insurance premium into the mortgage.

Some people mistakenly believe they earn too much money to qualify for an FHA mortgage. This is not true, but the reverse does apply. FHA requirements state the applicant must have enough income to qualify for both the mortgage payment itself plus other debts including typical home owner expenses like utilities and other payments.

Income limits do come into play when the borrower wants to apply for down payment assistance or other programs designed to help FHA loan applicants afford a new home.

Among the other basic requirements for an FHA home loan, applicants must submit to a credit report. Your credit score, payment history and job history may all be contributing factors in the FHA loan application; FHA borrowers should prepare for at least a year before starting a house hunt in order to get their financial affairs in order and be ready to have their credit scrutinized.

One question many newcomers to the FHA loan process ask: Is it possible to purchase a fixer-upper with an FHA home loan? This basic question makes all the difference for some applicants–those willing to put in time and effort to remodel or repair a property could find major savings on their initial home purchase. The FHA does allow borrowers to locate a fixer-upper; under what is known as HUD’s 203(k) program, a qualified borrower can not only purchase such a home but also include the cost of repairs or improvements into the loan.

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What Home Buyers Should Know About Mt Laurel AL

The Town of Mt Laurel is a picturesque community set within the wooded areas just outside of Birmingham.Mt Laurel offers shopping, dining, schools, churches and businesses all within walking distance of each-other. The town prides itself on its access to outdoor recreation as well as its promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Mt Laurel’s beautiful settings are complete with lakes, parks, picnic areas, and tree-lined sidewalks. Because it is a growing community there are plenty of new homes for sale in Mt Laurel, varying in both design and price in order to fit the tastes of most shoppers.

Thornton Homes is the proud developer of Dunnavant Square, a family home community right down the street from Mt Laurel with European style homes for sale. Current homes for sale near Mt Laurel in Dunnavant Square include townhomes, carriage homes and villas, all with many modern and convenient amenities. The beautiful homes for sale in this spectacular and unique community setting are the future of Thornton Homes’ vision. A few of our available new home features in the Dunnavant Square community are:

– Brick exteriors
– 3 and 4 bedroom plans
– security systems
– covered porches
– 9′ ceilings
– crown moldings
– hardwood floors
– fireplaces
– granite counter tops
– stainless steel appliances

One particularly desirable feature of Mt Laurel is its focus on bringing residents closer to each other and to the community itself. The town follows the ideals of ‘Traditional Neighborhood Development’, a simple concept of helping residents rely less on automobiles by designing the community to place main amenities and attractions conveniently near the center of the neighborhood. Through this concept Mt Laurel has become a self sustainable community and has spared its residents the drawbacks of typical urban sprawl.
Shops, parks and restaurants have been placed among homes and schools, allowing residents to be within walking distance of most key resources. The Traditional Neighborhood Development of Mt Laurel promotes a healthier, friendlier and greener community.

Mt Laurel is the perfect place for those searching for new homes for sale who want easy access to the city of Birmingham, without the hustle and bustle. With plenty of parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and swimming spots, home owners in Mt Laurel have many ways to escape from the city.

Contact us or visit our Dunnavant Square community page to see available homes and floorplans of our townhomes and villas!

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Real Estate Market – Pending Home Sales Surge

As the demand for new homes for sale in Birmingham and surrounding communities continues to grow, we look back over the previous months as to the effectiveness of programs like the home buy tax credit have been on the industry. Below is an article by RealtyTimes.com on the current conditions of the regional and national real estate markets:

Pending Home Sales Surge Continuing (U.S.)

Pending home sales have risen for three consecutive months, reflecting the broad impact of the home buyer tax credit and favorable housing affordability conditions, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, rose 6.0 percent to 110.9 based on contracts signed in April, from an upwardly revised 104.6 in March, and is 22.4 percent higher than April 2009 when it was 90.6. That follows gains of 7.1 percent in March and 8.3 percent in February.

Pending home sales are at the highest level since last October when the index reached 112.4 and first-time buyers were rushing to beat the initial deadline for the tax credit. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said this second round of surging sales from the tax credit extension looks as strong as the original tax credit. “There were concerns that only a small pool of buyers were left to take advantage of the tax credit extension. But evidently the tax stimulus, combined with improved consumer confidence and low mortgage interest rates, are contributing to surging sales,” he said. “The housing market has to get back on its own feet and now appears to be in a good position to return to sustainable levels even without government stimulus, provided the economy continues to add jobs.” NAR expects a net of 1 million additional jobs in the second half of this year and about 2 million in 2011.

“The home buyer tax credit brought close to 1 million additional buyers into the market, which is now helping the trade-up market and has significantly improved the inventory situation. This stabilized home prices more quickly and has preserved about $900 billion in home equity; in turn, that is keeping additional households from going underwater and risking foreclosure,” Yun said.

The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 29.5 percent to 97.9 in April and is 24.5 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index rose 4.1 percent to 104.2 and is 17.9 percent above April 2009. Pending home sales in the South slipped 0.6 percent to an index of 123.9, but is 31.3 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index rose 7.5 percent to 107.9 and is 12.0 percent higher than April 2009.

“A big concern surfacing recently is insufficient time to close the deal at the settlement table. Under normal circumstances, two months would be enough time from contract signing to settlement date,” Yun said. “However, the recent housing cycle has brought long delays related to the short sales approval process by banks, and from ongoing appraisal issues. There could be a sizable number of homebuyers who responded to tax credit incentives, but may encounter problems meeting the settlement deadline by June 30.” Because of these market challenges, NAR has asked Congress to provide flexibility on the deadline for closing.

The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Click here to read the original article on RealityTimes.com

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Before You Buy Your First Home – Tips for a First-time Home Buyer

It’s not uncommon for a first-time home buyer to say to me, “Gosh, just last week I called you about buying a home and now I’m in escrow! How did this happen so fast?”

The answer is it didn’t. First-time home buyers start the search long before most even realize it. Here’s what you can expect from your home shopping experience.

Benefits for a First-Time Home Buyer

You should buy a home. That’s what you’ve been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That’s a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters for a First-Time Home Buyer

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You’ve probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent’s office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Buy Your First Home?

In seller’s markets, often I show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need? A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren’t motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within two days.

Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will a Home Buyer See?

Studies show that your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, lay off the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don’t expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it’s physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The “Red Shoes” Experience for a Home Buyer

Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How a First-Time Home Buyer Can Rate Inventory

* Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
* Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
* Pay attention to the home’s surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
* Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
* Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time Before Buying That First Home

After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers’ motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn’t come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection To Buy a Home

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It’s an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It’s not my choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer’s search parameters.

By Elizabeth Weintraub, About.com Guide

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Before You Buy a Home – Look at Eight Reasons to Buy a Home

If you’re like most first-time home buyers, you’ve probably listened to friends’, family’s and coworkers’ advice, many of whom are encouraging you to buy a home. However, you may still wonder if buying a home is the right thing to do. Relax. Having reservations is normal. The more you know about why you should buy a home, the less scary the entire process will appear to you. Here are eight good reasons why you should buy a home.

Pride of Ownership

Pride of ownership is the number one reason why people yearn to own their home. It means you can paint the walls any color you desire, turn up the volume on your CD player, attach permanent fixtures and decorate your home according to your own taste. Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability and security. It’s making an investment in your future.


Although real estate moves in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down, over the years, real estate has consistently appreciated. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight tracks the movements of single family home values across the country. Its House Price Index breaks down the changes by region and metropolitan area. Many people view their home investment as a hedge against inflation.

Mortgage Interest Deductions

Home ownership is a superb tax shelter and our tax rates favor homeowners. As long as your mortgage balance is smaller than the price of your home, mortgage interest is fully deductible on your tax return. Interest is the largest component of your mortgage payment.

Property Tax Deductions

IRS Publication 530 contains tax information for first-time home buyers. Real estate property taxes paid for a first home and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes. While property taxes are collected at the local level, by counties, cities and towns, the rate is capped by the state government, meaning that the local government cannot exceed the maximum. This also means that rates will vary by location, so do your research first to find the lowest rates in the state. Remember, though, that property taxes are the primary means of generating revenue for local use, with much of it going towards education, roads and often emergency services.

Some of the highest state taxes in the country are located in the Northeast, such as New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Lowest rates belong to the Southern states which include Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana. All but five states collect sales tax on purchased items. These exemptions include Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. For more information on your particular state, go to the official government page found here. Most states do have property tax relief programs in place for those who are struggling to keep up.

Again, programs vary from state-to-state, so it’s worth looking into if you think you may qualify for assistance, credit or a rebate. Read the article, “State Tax – How much will I have to pay if I move to another state? for more state tax information.

Capital Gain Exclusion

As long as you have lived in your home for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains. You do not have to buy a replacement home or move up. There is no age restriction, and the “over-55” rule does not apply. You can exclude the above thresholds from taxes every 24 months, which means you could sell every two years and pocket your profit–subject to limitation–free from taxation.

Preferential Tax Treatment

If you receive more profit than the allowable exclusion upon sale of your home, that profit will be considered a capital asset as long as you owned your home for more than one year. Capital assets receive preferential tax treatment.

Morgage Reduction Builds Equity

Each month, part of your monthly payment is applied to the principal balance of your loan, which reduces your obligation. The way amortization works, the principal portion of your principal and interest payment increases slightly every month. It is lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. On average, each $100,000 of a mortgage will reduce in balance the first year by about $500 in principal, bringing that balance at the end of your first 12 months to $99,500.

Equity Loans

Consumers who carry credit card balances cannot deduct the interest paid, which can cost as much as 18% to 22%. Equity loan interest is often much less and it is deductible. For many home owners, it makes sense to pay off this kind of debt with a home equity loan. Consumers can borrow against a home’s equity for a variety of reasons such as home improvement, college, medical or starting a new business. Some state laws restrict home equity loans.

By , About.com Guide

Original Article

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