Scottsdale Real Estate News - Septermber 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for September 2014:

Scottsdale Home Sales Outlook Stronger

Economists are more optimistic about the outlook for Scottsdale home sales over the next two years due to stronger job creation.

The annual pace of existing home sales nationwide will likely rise to 5.25 million units in the first three months of 2015 from 5.09 million in the current quarter, according to the Reuter's poll median forecast.

In May, economists expected much slower gains, with 5.1 million resales expected in the first quarter of next year.

Scottsdale home sales outlook is looking stronger due to stronger job creation

Americans signed more contracts in July to buy previously-owned homes than in any month in almost a year, suggesting the housing market was pulling out of its slump more quickly than expected.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said last week that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 3.3 percent to 105.9, the highest level since August 2013.

Low mortgage rates and improving labor market dynamics should remain conducive to gradual growth in the Scottsdale home sales sector.

A sharp increase in mortgage rates pushed sales of existing homes lower in the second half of 2013 but borrowing costs have been more stable in recent months and Scottsdale home sales have recovered some of the lost ground.

Investors and economists polled by Reuters generally expect the Federal Reserve will begin to slowly increase its benchmark interest rate around the middle of next year after holding it near zero since 2008.

The median forecast put the 30-year mortgage rate at 5.25 percent in 2016, down from 5.68 percent in the May poll. Last week, the 30-year rate averaged 4.28 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Economists don't believe a slow rise in mortgage rates will hurt Scottsdale home sales, as slow increases in rates are generally considered a symptom of an improving economy. At the same time, slowly rising rates may also help to bring home price appreciation back down to more sustainable levels.

Speaking of mortgage rates and how they may affect Scottsdale home sales…

 

Scottsdale Mortgage Rates Remain Low

Scottsdale mortgage rates remain much lower than anyone expected they would be by this time when the Fed announced it would start cutting back on its purchases of mortgage bonds.

Mortgage News Daily reports that average 30-year fixed mortgage rates are down to around 4.11 percent. One year ago those same rates were 4.61 percent, down about 50 basis points year-over-year.

Mortgage refinancing tends to pick up anytime mortgage rates drop by 50 bps from recent levels, however most homeowners who were looking to refinance did so when rates were below 4 percent in 2012 and 2013.

We would not be surprised to see rates drift even lower in the coming few days or weeks as they pull lower due to global events, European debt, etc. These are the largest rate indicators right now that are affecting Scottsdale mortgage rates.

Scottsdale mortgage rates were well above 6 percent during the housing market's 2006-2007 peak. Freddie Mac data going back more than four decades shows 30-year rates hit an all-time low of just 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Trying to decide whether to lock in current Scottsdale mortgage rates or let them float a while longer? Seems odd to say floating is an option when we're near the best pricing of the year, but it might be a consideration for aggressive borrowers. If you're close to closing, or have tight debt ratios/cash to close, lock 'em up, and don't look back!

 

Ideal Time to Buy a Scottsdale Home?

If you've been waiting to buy a Scottsdale home when the time was just right, that time may be now.

Potential homebuyers who have been willing to wait for better deals are starting to be rewarded for their patience, as sellers drop listing prices to meet buyers' more value-focused expectations.

Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson says, "Two market developments in July are spurring this change in housing activity as the market transitions from the summer to the fall buying season.”

1 – Scottsdale Home Price Slowdown

Home price growth was mostly flat in July for the first time in five months.

As Senior Financial Reporter Trey Garrison said last week, home price growth has slowed across the board, and Capital Economics says the slowdown will likely meet the company's forecast for inflation to slow to 4% in 2015.

Just about everyone was a little surprised by the consecutive month-on-month declines in house prices during April, May and June on the new monthly Case-Shiller national measure. Echoing that message, the Case-Shiller 20-City measure of house prices fell during the latest two months.

2 – End of Seller's Market?

The second market development is a shift in pricing power from sellers to a more balanced market. That shift has been nearly nine months in the making from when sales began to first decline last November.  

Back in October, sellers were starting to lose their dominance in the market, with 72% of surveyed agents describing now as a good time to sell compared to 86% in the second quarter of 2013.

Look for these two trends to drive an unusual surge in home sales this fall. We also look for prices to continue to flatten, and to potentially decline month over month in September or October. If that happens, it will be the first three-month price decline since the fall 2012. Stay plugged in right here and we'll keep you posted on trends as we move through the fall Scottsdale home buying season and into the holidays.

We are your #1 resource for updated listings, investment properties, houses, townhomes, condos, waterfront estates, golf course property, and vacant land and properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding cities. Searching for Scottsdale, Arizona real estate and cities surrounding Scottsdale is just a click away. Click the "Search for Scottsdale Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page to start searching now.

There are a lot of credit repair companies out there that promise to improve your credit score, for a price. But are they doing anything for you that you can't do yourself? Should you pay someone else to do these things?

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Whether you decide to pay one of these credit repair companies to work on your credit, Do Not Buy Your FICO Score, because you're most likely not seeing what your lender sees.

To learn more and stay current on buying a Scottsdale home, and how your FICO score can play into your approval or denial of a mortgage, as well as tips and information on mortgages in general, check out our other articles by clicking on the Scottsdale Mortgage Info link to your right under Scottsdale Real Estate Categories.

We are your #1 resource for updated listings, investment properties, houses, townhomes, condos, waterfront estates, golf course property, and vacant land and properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding cities. Searching for Scottsdale, Arizona real estate and cities surrounding Scottsdale is just a click away. Click the "Search for Scottsdale Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page to start searching now.

When it comes to real estate, just about everything is negotiable, so don't ever let anyone tell you that services like Scottsdale title insurance and closing costs (escrow services) aren't.

Scottsdale title insurance companies are hired, in part, to issue title insurance protection for Scottsdale home buyers and lenders. Lenders require the service to protect them against loss resulting from claims by others against the Scottsdale home you are buying.

Scottsdale title insurance is a negotiable item that you need to shop around for.

How Scottsdale Title Insurance and Escrow Services Work

Title insurance comes into play during the "closing" period of the real estate transaction and is usually packed with escrow services.

Escrow services (sometimes attorneys, sometimes just a neutral third party) handle all the paperwork, transaction, deposits, mortgage signing, and various other "closing related" issues.

Before hiring title or escrow services, obtain several referrals from those you trust, family, friends, co-workers, real estate agents and others who've recently had a satisfactory closing of escrow.

Compare the costs of different escrow and Scottsdale title insurance companies before agreeing to use one. Fees can and do vary widely. Ask for EACH AND EVERY escrow cost from title insurance and search and escrow service fees, to all the little so-called "garbage fees" that crop up during a closing.

Make sure you get a good faith estimate from your lender, and double check the lines that cover these title and escrow services. Remember, an estimate is only that.. an estimate, so do your homework, and make sure you know the EXACT figures, and what you're getting for your money, before you go to the closing.

On closing day, be prepared with plenty of time, pencils, paper, a calculator, and an inquisitive, demanding mind. You are allowed to have your representative — a real estate agent, mortgage counselor or other professional — attend closing with you.

If we are involved in your real estate purchase, we will accompany you to your closing.

If you have questions or comments about this article on Scottsdale title insurance and escrow services, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll get back to you with any answers you need.

Get all the facts that affect buying a Scottsdale home, including Scottsdale title insurance, as well as other insurance, like homeowners insurance, right here at our website. For more articles and tips on Scottsdale title insurance, as well as homeowners insurance, check out our Scottsdale Insurance section under Scottsdale Real Estate Categories to your right.

We are your #1 resource for updated listings, investment properties, houses, townhomes, condos, waterfront estates, golf course property, and vacant land and properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding cities. Searching for Scottsdale, Arizona real estate and cities surrounding Scottsdale is just a click away. Click the "Search for Scottsdale Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page to start searching now.

We recently told you about FICO score changes that were being made that could make getting a mortgage easier for Scottsdale home buyers.

Well, not so fast.

Scottsdale homebuyers not likely to benefit from new FICO changes

What nobody mentioned about the score, dubbed FICO Score 9, is that most Scottsdale home buyers aren't likely to see any direct benefit from it any time soon, very possibly not for years.

That's because the two dominant financing sources in the mortgage market — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — aren't planning to use the new score in evaluating loan applicants for the foreseeable future. And major banks and mortgage companies aren't jumping to adopt it either.

None of this detracts from the merit or potential value to consumers of FICO's new score. The company says that by separating out medical debt-collection issues — which are commonplace negatives in millions of consumers' credit files — from other types of collection actions, the FICO 9 model will more fairly rank the actual risks posed by some applicants compared with others. For borrowers whose sole major negative credit file account is an unresolved medical debt, Fair Isaac estimates that the new model will increase scores by a median 25 points.

FICO 9 also is designed to more fairly treat applicants who have limited accounts on file with the credit bureaus — often young, first-time Scottsdale home buyers or consumers who have made minimal use of credit cards and other forms of personal credit.

Scottsdale Home Buyers Not Likely To See Any Help

So on the surface, the advent of the new score is a big deal. But here's the real world: New FICO score models only matter in the mortgage market if lenders choose to use them to evaluate applicants. And, based on discussions with leaders in the mortgage field, FICO 9 is a long way off from adoption. It's not likely to help many Scottsdale buyers any time soon, despite the hype.

Among other reasons, it can cost substantial sums of money to retool complex automated underwriting systems, especially at Fannie and Freddie. Lenders have to weigh the costs and benefits.

Will the relatively small improvements be worth the expense and hassles? And with all the other regulatory changes mandated by recent financial reform legislation, do we have the time and manpower to devote to analyzing the effects of FICO 9?

The sobering answers for Scottsdale home buyers appear to be no.

But stay tuned. As with anything else, these things are subject to change. And if and when they do, we'll let you know right here.

Check out our other articles and news affecting Scottsdale home buyers when it comes to mortgages by clicking on the Scottsdale Mortgage Info link to your right under Scottsdale Real Estate Categories.

We are your #1 resource for updated listings, investment properties, houses, townhomes, condos, waterfront estates, golf course property, and vacant land and properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding cities. Searching for Scottsdale, Arizona real estate and cities surrounding Scottsdale is just a click away. Click the "Search for Scottsdale Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page to start searching now.

Mortgage closing costs have risen 6% over the past year, according to a recent Bankrate.com report — averaging $2,539 on a $200,000 loan.

But mortgage closing costs aren't set in stone. Especially in today's market, you can definitely negotiate your origination and lender fees. It's like any other service. They have the power to give you a discount, if they want to. Don't just settle for whatever you're quoted for mortgage closing costs when buying a Scottsdale home.

Buying a Scottsdale home, ways to lower mortgage closing costs
Here are 5 Ways to Lower Your Mortgage Closing Costs

Get Multiple Quotes – Going with the first lender you call is like going with the first car insurance quote, or the first car you test drive — there might be a better deal or car out there. Get estimates from at least three lenders. You're looking for the total package for evaluation—interest rate plus closing costs. You'll generally be able to get those numbers by providing a few financial basics over the phone.

Compare Mortgage Closing Costs Carefully – This may be harder than it sounds, since lenders call similar fees by different names. They may lump certain things together that other lenders list separately, and include and exclude certain third-party costs, such as homeowners insurance. Your best bet is to ask for a GFE, or Good Faith Estimate, which lists each individual fee. It's the clearest way to see what each lender is charging you.

Ask About Fees – Make your lender walk through each charge with you and discuss what it includes. Some third party charges, such as appraisals and credit report fees, are pretty set in stone. Other costs, such as title insurance, legal fees, and rate lock fees vary more frequently than not. (Title insurance varies so much from state to state that some lenders don't even include it in their numbers. It's also something you can shop around for. You're not forced to take whatever quote you're given. Another charge to watch out for: Courier fees. In today's world of technology, unless the lender has been sending papers around for signature via delivery service, you can have this one nixed. Most use email and fax for signatures these days.

Watch For "Junk" Fees – Junk fees are fees a lender will charge that are negotiable, that they can take out or leave in. These might include things like application fees, underwriting fees, and loan processing fees, among others. If they seem vague, they probably are. Sometimes when you question the more ambiguous charges, they can be lowered or eliminated.

Ask for Discounts the Competitor is Offering – Go ahead, pit lenders against each other when getting quotes on your mortgage closing costs. If one lender is offering a deal, ask other lenders if they can match it. You may be surprised when a competitive market results in a smaller bottom line.

So there you have it. Our list of 5 Ways to Lower Mortgage Closing Costs when buying a Scottsdale home.

Stay abreast of all the tips and tricks affecting your ability to obtain a mortgage and lower your mortgage closing costs here at our website. More articles regarding Scottsdale mortgages can be found by clicking on the Scottsdale Mortgage Info link to your right under Scottsdale Real Estate Categories.

We are your #1 resource for updated listings, investment properties, houses, townhomes, condos, waterfront estates, golf course property, and vacant land and properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding cities. Searching for Scottsdale, Arizona real estate and cities surrounding Scottsdale is just a click away. Click the "Search for Scottsdale Real Estate" link at the top or bottom of this page to start searching now.