Homie’s Greater Phoenix, AZ Housing Market Update July 2020

It’s hot outside and so is the market!

“Hottest Summer ever in Phoenix recorded history and also the hottest July ever for real estate sales in the Greater Phoenix area. Our market is smoking! In the last 20 years, monthly sales have topped 10,000 only four previous times. July 2020 has reached this milestone with 10,303 sales!” -Wayne Graham, Head of Real Estate Operations at Homie Arizona.

Monthly Sales

chart showing number of home sales in AZ from July 1 to July 31, 2020

Data via ARMLS® from July 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

According to the data from the ARMLS® from July 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, real estate sales are up +8.4% month-over-month . The year-over-year comparison is up +12.1% at 10,303 compared to 9,192 in 2018-19.

List Price

*Data from the ARMLS® from July 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

Average new list prices are up +15.7% at $418.2K compared to $361.3K in 2018-19. The year over-year median is up +12.9% at $325K, compared to $287.9K in 2018-19.

Sale Price

chart comparing july 1-july 31 2020 to last quarter 2019.

*Data from the ARMLS® from July 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

Home values are staying strong. The average sales price is up +14.6% year-over year at $391.6K, compared to $341.6K in 2018-19. While the year-over year median sales price is also up +12.5% at $315K compared to $280K in 2018-19.

Days on Market (DOM)

chart comparing average days on market in july 1 to july 31 2020 to 2019

*Data from the ARMLS® from July 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

We saw the Average Cumulative Days on Market decrease in July 2020-19, averaging 55 days on market versus 63 Average Cumulative Days on Market in 2018-19. At Homie, we are continuing to see sellers getting multiple offers on their homes.

July Breaks Records in 2020

A message from our Associate Broker, Jennifer Hull:

For Buyers

It’s a jungle out there for buyers! Despite recent appreciation rates the Home Opportunity Index* measure for the Greater Phoenix market increased to 64.8% for the 2nd Quarter in 2020; the previous measure was 63.0%. This means that a household making the current median family income of $72,300 per year could afford 64.8% of what sold in the 2nd Quarter of 2020. By comparison, the HOI measure for the United States was 59.6%.

Historically, a normal range for this measure is between 60-75%. During the bubble years of excessive appreciation between 2005-2006, the HOI plummeted from 60.1% to 26.6%. Typically if it falls below 60%, the market should start to see a drop in demand. With the most recent increase however, Greater Phoenix is still within normal range and experiencing demand 20% above normal for this time of year.

What makes this market significantly different from the infamous bubble and crash is the relation between resale housing growth and population growth. In the early 2000’s, housing was growing faster than the population and creating a surplus. This surplus went unnoticed due to excessive speculator (i.e. “false”) demand fueled by loose lending practices. When loans tightened up, the surplus came roaring into focus as vacant inventory soared to over double the normal levels. However since 2006, the population has grown faster than housing. It has taken 14 years, but the population growth fueled by job growth has finally consumed the surplus of resale housing created during the bubble years and now the market is facing a shortage of homes for sale.

This type of market and appreciation is not sustainable long term, however it’s here now and properties purchased today are expected to continue appreciating over the next 6-12 months.

For Sellers

So much for the summer slowdown, July had a record number of closings go through the Arizona Regional MLS; surpassing every July as far back as 2001. July also had record breaking sales in dollar volume with $3.9B sold. The best July ever recorded prior was in 2005 at $2.9B. The monthly appreciation rate finalized 12.5% higher than 2019 and was the 4th highest appreciation rate for July going back to 2001.

“One third of homes closed were over asking price and only 15% involved any sort of seller-paid closing cost assistance; down from a high of 27% last May. Half of all sellers who accepted contracts in the first week of August did so with 7 days or less on the market.

Contracts on luxury homes over $1M are up an incredible 93% over last year at this time. Between $500K-$1M, contracts are up 64%. Between $300K-$500K, they’re up 39%. Between $250K-$300K, up 15%. If you need to sell, this is indeed the time to do it!” -Jennifer Hull, Associate Broker at Homie Arizona.

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Source: homie.com

The Best Apps on the Market to Learn About Your Credit – Lexington Law

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. John C Heath, Attorney at Law, PC, d/b/a Lexington Law Firm is an independent law firm that uses Progrexion as a provider of business and administrative services.

It’s difficult to stay on top of your credit score even during the best of times, and it only gets harder during times of financial crisis. While you may be able to regain ground on your credit card debt or mortgage loan after a missed payment, your credit score will take a hit. Even after you’ve gotten control of your finances again, the damage to your credit score will take quite a while to recover from. 

It’s important that you not only track your budget, but also closely monitor your credit score and take advantage of any opportunity to build credit. To assist you, we’ve researched different credit score management apps that can support your credit in a variety of ways. Some provide credit monitoring, opportunities for improving your credit score, credit protection and support for credit repair. 

Here’s our list of the most secure, easy-to-use and beneficial apps for managing your credit score.

Extra Credit is a brand new offering from Credit.com just launched to the public, but we are excited about its features. Those features include “Reward It,” which awards you funds when you are approved by a qualified lender through Extra Credit. 

Additionally, when you sign up for Extra Credit, you get access to the 28 most commonly used FICO® scores as well as your credit reports from all three bureaus and recommendations for credit cards based on your credit profile. Finally, Extra Credit provides you $1,000,000 in ID theft insurance, dark web monitoring and access to a third party service that reports your monthly rent and utility payments to the bureaus.

Unlike many of the apps on this list, however, Extra Credit is not a free service.

Experian allows you to monitor your Experian credit report and your FICO credit score, manage disputes with Experian and be aware of any new credit activity. Experian’s mobile app also comes with the Experian Boost feature, which allows you to report payments to the credit bureaus that would not usually be reported—such as cell phone bills and utilities—and potentially improve your score. 

Experian’s app provides services that you can use to improve, monitor and repair your credit. Keep in mind that these services are specific to your credit history as managed by Experian, one of the three credit bureaus that track your credit history. Although Experian allows you to look at your FICO score—the credit score that most lenders use—it doesn’t allow you to manage the credit reports compiled by TransUnion or Equifax.

The FICO credit scoring method is the most popular method among lenders for calculating credit scores. MyFICO allows you to see and manage the score that your lender will most likely consider when you apply for a mortgage or an auto loan. 

MyFICO also allows you to view your updated credit reports from all three bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additional features included are a credit score simulator, which allows you to see how possible actions could affect your score, credit monitoring, and credit education resources. 

MyFICO is a good choice for users looking for a credit monitoring service, but it does not provide as many resources as other apps to assist with credit score improvement or repair.

Mint predominantly focuses on budget management, but it also offers tools for monitoring your credit score and weighing it as a factor in your financial decisions. You can view your VantageScore credit score and TransUnion credit report in the app. Additionally, you can personalize alerts to stay up to date with any changes to your credit score or potential fraud or identity risks.

Mint offers more resources for setting financial goals, managing your budget, and keeping track of bills than it does for directly managing your credit score. It can be used as a credit monitoring tool, but bear in mind that you will only be able to see your TransUnion credit history.

The TransUnion app works in tandem with your TransUnion Credit Monitoring Account. It allows you to monitor your credit score and TransUnion credit report, both of which are updated daily. The TransUnion app also offers Credit Lock Plus, which allows you to “lock” and “unlock” your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. In addition, TransUnion provides identity theft insurance.

The app will only allow you to see your TransUnion credit report and manage the credit score based on your TransUnion credit history. It will not give you a complete picture of your credit history.

Lock & Alert is good for protecting your credit activity through Equifax. It allows you to easily “lock” and “unlock” your credit report—a much easier process than requesting a freeze be placed on your account, or lifting a freeze. 

The Lexington Law app works in tandem with your online account, allowing you to stay up to date with recent developments on your case while on the go. Lexington Law has one of the few credit management apps that allows you to view your credit history from all three credit bureaus, giving you the most complete snapshot of your credit. You can track any credit disputes currently in progress, see your most up-to-date FICO credit score and set up personalized alerts. Lexington Law also provides identity theft insurance and identity theft alerts. 

Although the Lexington Law app is free to download, you will need to pay to set up an account in order to use it.

Apps to Improve Your Credit Health

As you can see up above, different apps have different strengths. Your financial situation is unique, and the app that you choose will depend on your circumstances. However, each of the apps we have listed above will allow you to be more engaged in managing your credit score. Your credit is not beyond your control—there are resources available to you that can help you protect, build and repair your credit. 

If you’re trying to be more engaged in managing your credit or need help knowing where to start, contact our experienced credit consultants.


This article was reviewed by Daniel Woolston, an Assistant Managing Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. This article was written by Lexington Law.

Daniel Woolston is the Assistant Managing Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Woolston was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Sugar Land, Texas. He received his B.S. in Political Science at Brigham Young University and his Juris Doctorate at Arizona State University. After graduation, Mr. Woolston worked as a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor in Arizona. He has conducted numerous jury trials and hundreds of other court hearings. While at Lexington Law Firm, Mr. Woolston dedicates his time to training paralegals and attorneys in credit repair, problem solving, and ethical and legal compliance. Daniel is licensed to practice law in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Mindy Kaling is Moving Into Frank Sinatra’s Beach House in Malibu, Known as Ol’ Blue Eyes’ “Happiest Place on Earth”

Mindy Kaling just got herself a new home in Malibu, and boy is it one for the history books! According to the Los Angeles Times, the actress bought Frank Sinatra’s former Malibu home for $9.55 million.

After selling two other homes in the Los Angeles area in the past three years, Mindy Kaling seems to have settled on Malibu as a place to call home, and will be moving into her new place on Broad Beach with her adorable toddler, Katherine. And it only makes sense that the Sinatra beach house was the one to lock her down, as Frank Sinatra rightfully once called it “the happiest place on Earth”.

A coastal estate with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, 5,824 square feet, and plenty of outdoor spaces to soak in the vast ocean views, it’s easy to see why the oceanfront estate served as a frequent hangout for Sinatra’s star-studded crew. 

When we first reported on the listing (back in December 2018, when the property first came to market), and got in touch with one of the real estate agents in charge of the listing, I was humbled to learn that Leonard Rabinowitz (of Hilton & Hyland) was a real-life friend of the Sinatras. One that has actually passed through the doors of their home as a guest, and one that can help tell the story of the home where “The Voice” had spend his final years.

“I met Mr. & Mrs. Sinatra in the early 90’s when mutual friend and poker pal Angie Dickinson invited me to their beach house for a Sunday afternoon” Leonard Rabinowitz said. “When you enter the front door of the Sinatra Beach House there is an expansive view straight through the house and grounds to the ocean. As spectacular as the ocean view is, I was just as struck by those seated in the living room. There were Mr. & Mrs. Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Dick Martin, Robert Wagner, Louis Jourdan, Steve Lawrence, Edye Gorme, and Dick Van Dyke. A room full of legends!”

Frank-Sinatra-home-interiors
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich
Frank-Sinatra-house-malibu
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich

The story of how Frank Sinatra made Malibu his home

According to Mr. Rabinowitz, at the beginning of the 1990s Frank Sinatra and his wife Barbara would often visit their friends Steve and Eydie (Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé.) The Grammy Award-winning husband-and-wife duo were close friends of the Sinatras and would often invite them over to their Broad Beach home.

That’s how the two fell in love with the area and bought a lot there in 1990, lot that they used to built what was later on their ‘happiest place on earth’: a 7-bedroom, 9-bathroom dream beach home that opens up to the ocean.

With lots of space for entertaining, the 5,800-square-foot Sinatra Beach House comes with a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, endless dining and living spaces (fit for a world-class entertainer), a stunning indoor-outdoor bar, and a patio overlooking a grassy lawn out to the ocean. There’s also a sauna, a hair-salon, and an elevator with leopard-print design. Don’t know how Mindy Kaling feels about all that, but I do know is that one Mindy Lahiri would be ecstatic about the leopard-print elevator!

frank-sinatra-malibu-home-ocean-views
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich
Frank-Sinatra-house-interiors
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich

The Sinatra house of love

Working with designer Edward “Ted” Grenzbach — who also designed homes for the likes of Johnny Carson, Barbara Streisand, Rupert Murdoch and Cher — Barbara and Frank Sinatra saw their dream home come to life.

And they were so happy with the results that, according to Mrs. Sinatra’s autobiography, “Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank“, they decided to renew their vows in the house’s backyard in 1996.

In an intimate setting, with friends and family attending, the Sinatra Beach House stood witness to a ceremony celebrating renewed commitments of love and friendship from Frank and Barbara Sinatra. Now isn’t that a wonderful story to tell visitors when they come visit Mindy Kaling’s house?

frank-sinatra-house-bedroom
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich
frank-sinatra-house-bedroom
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich

After his death in 1998, Frank Sinatra’s house was passed on to a trust linked to Mrs. Sinatra. Following her own death in 2017, the house was brought to market by her son from a previous marriage, Robert Oliver, and initially priced at $12,900,000.

Agents Leonard Rabinowitz and Jack Friedkin with Hilton & Hyland, and Chris Cortazzo with Coldwell Banker were in charge of the listing, with Cortazzo also representing Kaling in the transaction.

frank-sinatra-beach-house
Photo credits: Mike Helfrich

More celebrity homes:

Sir Anthony Hopkins is Selling His Malibu Home Perched on a Cliff’s Edge
Shaquille O’Neal is Selling his L.A. Home… on Instagram
Inside Supernatural Star Jensen Ackles’ ‘Very Hip’ Lake House in Austin
The Mysterious Allure of Stephen King’s House, the Beating Heart of Bangor, Maine

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure vs. Short Sale

Last updated on August 25th, 2020

It’s time for another mortgage match-up, with the latest in the series pitting the lesser known “deed in lieu of foreclosure” vs. the more popular short sale.

Nowadays, there are plenty of options to get rid of your home and avoid foreclosure, even if you owe more than the property is currently worth.

By avoiding the full-blown foreclosure process, you can reduce the negative impact to your credit score and ensure the lender won’t come after you for any deficiency balance.

Additionally, you may be able to purchase real estate and qualify for a mortgage much sooner if you go with one of these foreclosure alternatives.

What Is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure?

deed-in-lieu

  • As the phrase “deed in lieu” suggests
  • Instead of the lender pursuing foreclosure and taking your home
  • They will allow you to voluntarily deed back your property
  • It’s basically a preemptive forfeiture of the home in exchange for some benefits

In short, a deed in lieu of foreclosure is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of foreclosure, you agree to voluntarily deed your property to the lender.

In exchange for this transfer of ownership, the lender will release the associated lien (mortgage), allowing you to move on with your life.

However, banks will only agree to a deed in lieu if you keep the property in good shape and meet some sort of hardship requirements.

The trade-off is that the bank gets a property free from damages typically associated with foreclosure, and they don’t need to deal with costly foreclosure proceedings.

Of course, with home prices much lower now than they once were, properties are often being dumped for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

As a result, the lender may be able to come after you for the deficiency balance, or the shortfall between the current property value and the loan balance, depending on state foreclosure laws.

If this is the case, you may be on the hook for all or part of the shortfall, which clearly isn’t ideal if you can’t even afford your mortgage payments.

It certainly won’t make your tax returns any more pleasant, especially after surrendering the property to the lender.

This is why it’s imperative that you negotiate with the lender to forgive any deficiency balance before agreeing to one of these deed in lieu of foreclosure agreements. And to get it in writing!

You must also do this with any junior liens, or second mortgages (or thirds). If you don’t, those lenders can come after you for any shortfall in certain situations.

Finally, you’ll want to determine if the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act applies to your situation.

Even if the lender doesn’t come after you for any money, Uncle Sam still might by way of tax liability. So there are two potential pitfalls you must try to avoid.

Why Choose a Deed in Lieu?

  • There are several possible advantages to a deed in lieu
  • Including less credit score damage (see chart below)
  • A shorter waiting period to get another mortgage in the future
  • And less required work (compared with a short sale)

Aside from avoiding an outright foreclosure, a deed in lieu may be the quickest option to part with your home if you don’t qualify for some other form of relief, such as a mortgage refinance or a loan modification.

Instead of being tasked with selling your home and waiting for the bank to accept the short sale offer, you can have the bank take care of it.

However, the bank may still ask that you list the property for a period of time before agreeing to a deed in lieu.

Also, a deed in lieu may not be nearly as bad as a foreclosure with regard to your credit score. It will still hurt your credit, but the impact could be less, assuming there is no deficiency balance.

Credit Score Impact of a Deed in Lieu

deed in lieu impact

Check out the credit score impact of a deed in lieu as opposed to a foreclosure, according to FICO. It’s still not great, but it probably won’t do as much damage as a foreclosure.

On top of that, you’ll be able to qualify for a new home loan in a shorter period of time.

Instead of waiting up to seven years after a foreclosure, you may only need to wait as few as two years if you have extenuating circumstances, or four years under normal circumstances.

Lastly, you may be able to stay in your home with a deed in lieu if the lender offers a “Deed-for-Lease” option, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now do (along with Bank of America). Or you may receive some spending money for relocation costs.

For example, Fannie Mae has a so-called “Mortgage Release” program that provides options such as vacating a home immediately, staying for up to three months rent-free, or leasing the home at fair market rates for up to a year. This can be especially helpful if you have limited monthly income.

They may also provide relocation assistance (up to $3,000 to help you move and find a new residence), while also eliminating your remaining mortgage debt. That sounds a lot better than a foreclosure, doesn’t it?

What About a Short Sale?

  • The downside here is that you actually have to do some work
  • As the name suggests you’ve got to sell the place
  • And you need to do so with the approval of your lender
  • This can be time-consuming and a major burden during what is probably already a stressful time

I’ve already written extensively about short sales, which are probably the most popular foreclosure alternative available today.

Put simply, you must convince the lender to allow you to sell your property for less than the associated mortgage balance.

The downside is that you must list your home for sale, which obviously takes work, results in people tracking mud through your home, dealing with annoying real estate agents, and can take many (many) months to finalize.

First off, you need the bank to approve the sale, and secondly, you need to close the deal. It’s a lot more difficult to sell homes these days, so it can be quite a pain.

It’s basically a home sale without the profits at the end, but it might beat the foreclosure process.

However, new rules have sped up short sales, and now that they’re so commonplace, the process can be a lot more effortless.

The result is similar to a deed in lieu in that you are released from the loan once the home is sold, and you avoid foreclosure.

Again, you must ensure that there isn’t a deficiency balance to avoid owing any money on your tax returns after the deal is done.

And if there are second or third liens, they must also be dealt with.

Tip: If you complete a short sale or deed in lieu via the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, the deficiency balance must be waived.

The advantages of a short sale are like a deed in lieu in that you can reduce the credit score impact and get a new mortgage sooner. You may also be offered a financial incentive to short sell.

The drawback is that a short sale may be more time consuming and tedious. However, banks are probably more willing to approve a short sale than they are a deed in lieu, especially if there is another mortgage loan is involved.

Though beginning in March, Fannie and Freddie will allow borrowers with illness or the need to relocate for a job apply for a deed in lieu, even if current on their mortgages. This just so happens to be taking place when home prices are on the rise…

In either a short sale or deed in lieu, there are also potential tax consequences, so consult a CPA and/or a lawyer before deciding which choice is best for you, if either. And pay attention to any legal updates on foreclosure laws, as they can change over time.

Read more: Foreclosure vs. short sale

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Home Prices vs. COVID-19: Will They Go Up or Down?

Posted on May 7th, 2020

It’s time to take a look at how COVID-19 could impact home prices given the massive disruption to the local, state, national, and global economy.

On the one hand, inflation is expected due to all the government spending, which could lead to a price increase since real estate often acts as an inflation hedge.

Conversely, if tons of borrowers lose their homes due to unemployment, we could see properties flood the market. And when combined with fewer eligible buyers, it could lead to a supply glut.

Consider the Lack of Housing Supply and Mortgage Quality

  • The housing market has three great things working in its favor right now
  • Housing supply is low enough even if buyer demand wavers during this uncertain time
  • The quality of today’s mortgages is excellent any many homeowners have lots of equity
  • Mortgage rates are at record lows, which further increases home buyer appetite

First, let’s compare today’s housing market to the one in 2006. They really couldn’t be any different, both from an inventory standpoint and from a mortgage perspective.

Simply put, back then there were way too many homes being built, and not enough demand to meet that supply.

At the same time, banks and lenders were doling out home loans to anyone with a pulse, knowing they could quickly bundle the underlying mortgages and sell them to Wall Street shortly after origination.

Taken together, it was a recipe for disaster. Homeowners had massive mortgages they couldn’t truly afford that were often set to adjust higher just months after they took them out.

They also had no skin in the game, aka home equity, so there wasn’t much incentive to stick around and try in vain to keep a sinking ship afloat.

Today, Americans are sitting on the most home equity in history, and very little of it is being tapped thanks to tighter underwriting guidelines that have only become more restrictive since COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

Meanwhile, there’s an inventory shortage that has likely only worsened as fewer existing homeowners list their properties, and mortgage rates are at record lows.

In short, homeowners today have tons of equity and historically cheap mortgages, and home buyers have fewer properties to choose from and ridiculously low mortgage rates at their disposal.

The Great Unknown Ahead

  • Ultimately nobody knows what the future holds or how we recover post-coronavirus
  • 1 in 5 Americans have already filed for first-time unemployment benefits since mid-March
  • That will likely worsen over time and lead to increased mortgage forbearance requests
  • The big question – is this income hit temporary for most homeowners or permanent?

Now it’s wonderful that today’s mortgages are mostly pristine, and that homeowners have tons of equity to serve as a cushion if forced to sell.

But we’re living in a very fluid and strange environment at the moment that could change in no time at all.

For example, one in five Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March, and that’s likely only going to get worse.

So even if many of these homeowners had super affordable mortgages, a lack of income and the inability to tap their equity could put them at risk quickly.

To counter that we’ve got the mortgage forbearance offered via the CARES Act, which is great for struggling homeowners but only lasts for 12 months.

What happens after that? At best, if they simply have to resume making normal payments, there’s a decent chance not everyone will be re-employed and able to do so.

The world has changed and may not go back to “normal,” and thus not everyone will have the realistic ability to return to making monthly mortgage payments.

Even if they’re offered a loan modification to lower their payment, it still might not be enough if they can’t find work.

The same goes for investment properties such as those offered by Airbnb and other short-term vacation companies, or kiddie condos owned by parents in college towns, which might remain vacant.

If this is the case, we could see a flood of new properties hit the market similar to what we saw back in 2008, 2009, etc.

That’s where these two very different housing markets could begin to intersect. The good news is we didn’t have a supply glut before COVID-19 came around.

Back in 2006, we had a massive oversupply that was further exacerbated by a financial bubble, so it was a one-two punch.

Additionally, one could argue that both homeowners and lenders were to blame for what happened back then.

Sure, lenders offered high-risk products, but borrowers happily pulled out billions in cash out along the way to spend on who knows what.

Today, you can’t really blame a homeowner who is unable to make their mortgage payment due to the coronavirus epidemic.

And it’d look really bad to foreclose on this type of homeowner, which could limit the damage and keep inventory tight.

But here’s the thing – no one can sit here today and say they know what’s going to happen with COVID-19. And data models can’t forecast properly in this environment.

So really anything right now is a guess.

What Are We Seeing So Far in the Housing Market?

homebuyer demand

  • Home sellers mostly haven’t budged on listing prices
  • Prospective sellers are ready to go once stay-at-home orders are lifted
  • Amenities like big yards and home offices are becoming more important to buyers
  • Home buying demand is recovering and listing prices are up from a year ago

Everyone seems to want to call this event temporary – a moment in time that will magically fix itself once the economy opens up.

I don’t subscribe to that, as much as I wish it were true. You can’t simply erase what’s happened the past several months, nor what lies ahead in the aftermath.

Speaking of, are we even “after” yet, or is this still in the early innings. While that too can be debated all day long, again no one really knows.

But we can look at early impact to get some sort of a clue.

The MBA reported that seasonally adjusted home purchase applications increased 6% from a week earlier, with even bigger gains seen in California and New York.

The ever-cheerful National Association of Realtors reported that home sellers have not lowered their listing prices as a result of COVID-19.

In the latest week, 73% of Realtors said their clients did not reduce listing prices to attract home buyers.

That’s been pretty steady for the past few weeks since NAR began reporting on it.

Additionally, they said today that 77% of prospective sellers “are preparing to sell their homes following the end of stay-at-home orders.”

In other words, once this blows over it’s going to be real estate business as usual, sans discount!

Interestingly, buyer needs might have changed – they now want a big backyard to play in and grow their own food, along with a home office and possibly a home gym too.

The less is more thing may no longer be a hot trend, nor is urban living possibly as popular. The Burbs are back!

Over at Redfin, it’s also good news with nearly 53,000 homes hitting the market during the week ending April 24th, compared to just over 48,000 for the week ended April 13th.

Additionally, pending home sales have increased from less than 31,000 to more than 32,500 during those same periods.

Despite the rise in new listings, there were less than 700,000 homes for sale in Redfin markets nationwide, the lowest amount the real estate brokerage has seen during the past five years.

That might explain why the median listing price was $308,000 for the week ending April 24th, up 1% compared to the same period last year.

Home buyer demand has also begun to climb back after taking a hit in March, a sign potential buyers are unfazed and ready to move forward.

A Home Price Projection from Zillow

Zillow scenarios

  • Company sees home prices falling just 2-3% by the end of 2020
  • With a recovery in home prices throughout 2021
  • Their pessimistic model sees a 3-4% decline in prices and no recovery in 2021
  • Home sales are expected to fall 50-60% in all their models before rebounding at varying speeds

Now let’s take a look at a projection from Zillow, the creator of the Zestimate that should know a thing or two about home prices.

They have forecast a mere 2-3% drop in home prices through the end of 2020, which will be followed by a recovery in prices throughout 2021.

That means a small drop this year that is recovered next year could mean no material change for home prices due to COVID-19.

So they appear to be on the “this is temporary” wagon. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, home prices were expected to rise 3.3% on average in 2020, and 2.7% in 2021, per the Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which includes a panel of more than 100 economists and experts.

But again, their “proprietary macroeconomic and housing data” might not be well-equipped to take into account a pandemic.

They have three different scenarios for home prices, including an optimistic, medium, and pessimistic outlook.

At best, they drop only 1-2% this year, at worse they fall 3-4% and “remain depressed through 2021.”

In all cases, home sales are expected to take a big hit of 50-60%, though when they recover varies.

That might hurt real estate agents and mortgage lenders if mortgage refinance volume begins to waver.

The good news, despite all the horrible news, is that homeowners are a lot better off today than they were in 2006, which means more of them should be able to get through this crisis without losing their home.

And that should bode well for home prices.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

IRS Now Using Private Collection Agencies for Certain Tax Debts – Lexington Law

rebuilding credit

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Consumers commonly receive phone calls from scammers impersonating government agents to collect money. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regularly warns consumers about falling victim to phone scams, especially those involving payment for back taxes. Under a new federal program, however, the IRS will assign certain overdue federal tax debts to four private collection agencies (PCAs). These private debt collectors will contact taxpayers on behalf of the IRS to collect certain outstanding tax debts. Consumers should familiarize themselves with the IRS’s private debt collection program to protect themselves against scams.

IRS Private Debt Collection Program

Federal law requires the IRS use private debt collection agencies to collect certain overdue tax debts. In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Although the primary purpose of the FAST Act is to fund transportation projects, Section 32102 requires the IRS to use PCAs to collect inactive tax receivables. Accordingly, the IRS implemented a new private debt collection program in April 2017.

The IRS assigns only certain accounts to private debt collection agencies. These accounts involve “inactive tax receivables,” meaning any tax receivable:

  • That has been removed from the IRS’s active inventory for lack of resources or an inability to find the taxpayer;
  • For which more than one-third of the applicable limitation period has passed and no IRS employee has been assigned to collect the receivable; or
  • That has been assigned but more than 365 days have passed without interaction between the IRS and the taxpayer or a third party.

The IRS does not assign accounts to PCAs if the taxpayer is:

  • Deceased;
  • Under the age of 18;
  • In designated combat zones;
  • Victims of tax-related identity theft;
  • Currently under examination, litigation, criminal investigation or levy;
  • Subject to pending or active offers in compromise;
  • Subject to an installment agreement;
  • Subject to a right of appeal;
  • Classified as innocent spouse cases; or
  • In presidentially declared disaster areas and requesting relief from collection.

Only four PCAs are designated to collect the tax debt on behalf of the IRS: CBE, Conserve, Performant, and Pioneer. Taxpayers will be notified in writing by the IRS and the PCA when an account has been transferred from the IRS to a collection agency.

Because the IRS uses only these four designated PCAs to collect a specific type of tax debt, consumers must remain cautious if they receive debt collection calls pertaining to other types of tax debt.

Other Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

Concerned consumers who receive contact attempts from someone they suspect is impersonating the IRS and requesting money can take the following steps to avoid being scammed:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help with a payment issue.
  • If you know you do not owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at tigta.gov.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant, choose “Scams and Rip-Offs” and then “Impostor Scams.”

 

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Sources:

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Mercury Insurance Review

  • Car Insurance

Founded in 1961, Mercury is an insurance provider that has received a wealth of prestigious accolades over the years and is ranked as one of the cheapest providers across the 11 states in which it operates. 

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In this Mercury Insurance Review, we will compare this insurance company’s products, services, and prices to other insurance carriers and see how it stacks up.

Mercury Auto Insurance Coverage: Main Options

Mercury provides varying degrees of coverage. You can opt for the bare minimum requirement in your state or choose an extended coverage plan that will cover you for most eventualities.

To buy insurance from Mercury, you need to go through an agent. You can find details of Mercury insurance agents through the Mercury website or work directly with a local agent you already know.

The insurance coverage options include:

  • Liability Coverage: Bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage are both provided to help you meet the state minimum requirements. They can also be increased if you need a little more cover. Liability insurance is a requirement in most states.
  • Collision Coverage: Liability insurance covers the other driver during an at-fault accident. It does not cover you if you hit a tree or a wall. For that, you need collision coverage, which is provided by Mercury for an additional cost.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: An extensive policy option that will cover you for damage not related to car accidents, such as vandalism and weather/environmental damage. Comprehensive insurance also covers you in the event of a collision with an animal, which, surprisingly is not covered by collision insurance.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This insurance option covers you for personal damages, as well as lost wages, childcare costs, and other expenses that result from injuries sustained during a car accident. It will also cover you for these injuries if you are a passenger.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: Medical payments coverage is designed to cover your medical bills following an accident. It is required in a couple of states and often provides cover up to a few thousand dollars.
  • Rental Car Coverage: If your car is being repaired or was stolen, rental car coverage will ensure you can stay on the roads by providing you with a replacement vehicle for a fixed period of time.
  • Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage: A type of insurance that covers you when you are hit by an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver, essentially filling in the gaps that would otherwise have been paid by their insurer. 

Mercury Auto Insurance Coverage: Extra Insurance Options

In addition to the insurance options outlined above, Mercury Insurance also offers policyholders the chance to add the following:

  • Rideshare Insurance: The need for this insurance type has grown exponentially in the last few years, with more Uber and Lyft cars on the roads than ever. With rideshare insurance, you’ll be covered when you have passengers in your vehicle. It’s an important consideration if you drive for these services.
  • Roadside Assistance: If you’re stranded by the side of the road, roadside assistance will help with towing costs, tire changes, fuel deliveries, and other essentials. It’s worth noting, however, that this service is provided elsewhere and if you have a premium credit card or are part of an auto vehicle organization, you may already be covered.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Protection: Will cover the costs associated with a car breakdown and is important if your warranty has expired. A complete breakdown can be costly if you don’t have the necessary warranties, but this coverage option will step in to help.

Mercury Car Insurance Discounts

Mercury offers all the following discounts, allowing policyholders to save big on their insurance premiums:

  • RealDrive: The RealDrive program will track how many miles you drive and could offer you discounts if you’re a low mileage driver. Policyholders can save 5% just by signing up, with further discounts to come once the low mileage begins to register.
  • Good Student Discount: Save up to 10% if you can achieve and maintain a good grade point average as a student driver.
  • Good Credit Discount: Mercury rewards drivers with a good credit score and a clean credit history. In fact, the savings offered here can be as high as 75%, which is more than you find with the majority of other major insurance providers.
  • Good Driver Discount: Maintain a good driving record for a discount of between 15% and 20%.
  • Student Away Discount: Students who live on campus can save up to 10% on their premiums.
  • Anti-Theft Devices: If you have these devices in your car, the risk of theft will be reduced, and Mercury will offer you savings of up to 5%.
  • Multi-Car Discount: By adding a second car to your policy you could save as much as 25%.

Other Types of Insurance Policies Offered by Mercury

​Mercury offers homeowners insurance, renters insurance, condo insurance, business insurance, umbrella insurance, and commercial auto insurance, although many of these are restricted to just a handful of states and may not be available where you live.

If you purchase car insurance with any of the home insurance options outlined above, you can get a multi-policy discount, also known as bundling. The amount that you can save differs from state to state but averages out at around 10%.

Is Mercury Insurance Available Everywhere?

Mercury is offered in all of the following states: 

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Oklahoma
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Virginia
  • Texas

It also offers specific services and coverage options that are limited to a handful of states, such as rideshare insurance, which is offered only in California, Nevada, and Arizona, and commercial insurance, which is offered everywhere except for New Jersey and New York.

Mercury Insurance Claims

To make a claim with Mercury, simply phone the claims hotline (1 (800) 503-3724) any time of the day or night. A support rep will take all information from you, so describe the accident and the damage in as much detail as you can. The claim will be recorded, so you won’t need to repeat yourself in the future.

The rep will walk you through the details of your policy and can also arrange for your car to go to a body shop or to be towed. You can also find a body shop yourself by going through the Mercury website.

Customer Satisfaction

The Mercury Insurance Group has a high financial strength rating from AM Best and good ratings from JD Power. It’s a reputable, established, and award-winning company that has been going strong for over 50 years and has insured millions of drivers in that time.

But as promising as all of this is, there is one thing that lets Mercury down, and that’s its customer support. Mercury scores fairly poorly in this department and while the majority of customers are happy with the service provided, there is a disproportionate number of dissatisfied and even angry consumers.

Bottom Line

Mercury may offer the cheapest insurance rates in your state. It may offer the best coverage options and the most dedicated service. At the same time, you could find a better service and much better prices elsewhere.

Many policyholders switch to Mercury from GEICO and Progressive. In fact, these are the two main providers that Mercury customers switch from. But that does not mean Mercury is better than GEICO and Progressive. And even if it did provide better rates and options for one person, that doesn’t mean it will do the same for you.

That’s why it is important to get auto insurance quotes from multiple providers.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

7 Carpet Cleaning Hacks You Haven’t Tried Yet

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Carpet Cleaning Hacks For Your Apartment | DIY Carpet Cleaning Tips

While hardwood and wood-style flooring continue to gain popularity in the world of apartment rentals, plenty of landlords and property management companies continue to use wall-to-wall carpeting in their rentals.  No matter what your preference, there are, in fact, some benefits that come with carpeted flooring.  From sound dampening to comfort for bare feet, carpet still has a lot to offer and is much easier to maintain with minimal wear & tear with a few great cleaning hacks.  Whether you live with wall-to-wall carpeting or choose to cozy things up with rugs, check out our carpet cleaning hacks to help keep them looking their best.

Use a lint roller to help extract small debris

Sometimes, suction from a regular household cleaner is just not enough to help you get rid of all the dirt, crumbs, pet hair, spills (i.e. flour, sugar, rice or etc), or the many other tiny particles nested in the fiber of your carpeting.

Truth is, that’s normal. The experts at Fantastic Cleaners say that regular steam (or dry chem) cleaning at least once every 6 months is a mandatory chore for any conscientious homeowner or renter. High-end steam cleaners and dry compound solutions remove up to 95% of the unsanitary agents in both carpets and rugs, unlike regular vacuums.

A great way to extract pesky particles DIY is by using an almighty lint roller! The one downside of using one to further extract fiber-stuck dirt is the need of some manpower. On average, you’ll need anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes to cover a fully carpeted room.

Use a squeegee to remove pet hair from carpets

Have you ever seen what happens to a carpet in a house full of cats? How about dogs? Either way, you can surely imagine the excessive amount of hair pets leave behind as they shed.  What doesn’t stick to furnishing and upholstery will inevitably end up on the carpet.

Bear in mind: This works best for short-haired carpets and rugs.

Squeegees might be meant for cleaning your windows but their efficiency with hair removal is a know-how must for pet-owners! All you have to do is rinse the squeegee so it’s moist enough for pet hair to stick. To maintain a clean carpet when living with pets can be a hefty task, but some know-how, discipline, and persistence is the one sure way to success.  

Apply heat to help remove stubborn stains

Although there are some stains that are not susceptible to removal via heat, most are. The challenge of removing a stubborn smear has pushed human creativity and ingenuity to the maximum.

You can find many different recipes for removing stains via ironing but the one we have comes in 5 simple steps:

  • Remove all dirt possible vie regular vacuum cleaning;
  • Mix water and vinegar 3:1 and pre-treat all stubborn stains;
  • Leave the mixture to set in and work. 5 to 10 minutes should be enough;
  • Use a towel or a rag to cover the stain;
  • Gently iron the area, being mindful to move quickly to avoid damaging the carpet fiber.

The combined forces of water, vinegar, pressure, and heat causes most stains to “relocate” from your carpet to the rag or towel.

Blot a stain rather than rubbing it

We rub one too many things in our daily life – washing silver and dinnerware, brushing our teeth, washing our face in the morning, all the way to wiping smudges off your shoes and etc. Rubbing something to clean it is an instinctual reaction, but when it comes to cleaning a carpet – rubbing is a huge no-no.

Here’s why: When applying pressure to your carpet will only worsen the situation. The more you rub the deeper a stain will set in. Once fiber and dirt spots bound for good – cleaning could render impossible.

Always mind what direction you blot at:

  • Start at the outer edges of the stain, working your way in toward the center.  Working outward could further spread the stain.
  • Mind the arrangement of fibers. You would not want to blot the opposite way, for it could further damage the piece.

Deep clean using safe and effective DIY solutions

The market is oversaturated with products meant for people who own gear for deep cleaning a carpet, but unfortunately, most detergents are heavy on chemicals and pose health hazard risks to you and your family.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and nature-safe solution for your steam cleaner, here’s a green recipe you should definitely try:

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Essential oils
  • Dish soap
  • A regular fabric softener
  • Hot water

Directions:

  • Pour about 3/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a cup;
  • Add ¼ cup of white vinegar;
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dish soap;
  • Add 2 tbsp of fabric softener;
  • Dilute in a gallon of hot water.
  • Optional: add a few drops of your favorite (colorless) essential oil, such as lavender, to help neutralize the vinegar scent

Although not always as powerful as off-the-shelf carpet shampooers, this DIY deep cleaning solution is relatively inexpensive and harmless when diluted in this way.

Shampoo your carpet with shaving cream

Bright and light colored carpets are vulnerable to signs of wear and tear.  Naturally neutral colors can easily become a victim of accidents, mud marks, and kid and pet stains.

An efficient yet lesser known cleaning solution is the hack of using regular shaving cream! It’s budget friendly and can work wonders. It not only helps with aged stains but rejuvenates and freshens the entire fabric of your carpet!

Some call shaving cream “the anti-aging solution”. It not only leaves a pleasant aroma but softens the fabric itself.

Make a DIY carpet deodorizer

Deodorizing your carpet on a regular basis can help maintain a pleasant smelling apartment and is rather simple to do. Simply mix a tablespoon or two of Borax with a few drops of your essential oil of your choice, then add the mixture to a cup or two of baking soda and your DIY deodorizer is good to go.  Simply sprinkle liberally and evenly on your carpet and let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour or two, then vacuum it all up and take a deep breath!  Take care to keep any children or pets out of the room while the mixture works its magic – while these ingredients are relatively safe and natural, you want to avoid ingestion and the spreading of the mixture beyond the intended treatment area. 

Carpets are simply a must but cleaning can be a hefty burden. Surrounded by numerous chemical-rich products, we often ask for eco-friendly cleaning hacks to do so. Use these handy carpet cleaning hacks to handle stains and dirt-mark spots in an efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly way!

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Source: blog.apartminty.com

Homie Highlight: Gabriela Lopez

Title: Agent Support/Admin Assistant

In her role, Gabriela is the glue of real estate operations at Homie in Arizona. She assists Homie buyers’ and listing agents with uploading documents, updating statuses, submitting documents for broker review, and making sure everything stays organized.

Gabriela’s Background

Gabriela is an Arizona native. She can take the heat, she loves Arizona’s weather, and she enjoys mountain views. When she needs a break from the heat, she likes taking trips with her son up North to fish and camp, and she enjoys visiting our many lakes to ride jet skis.

She’s spent a large part of her career as a personal banker. She loves customer service and helping people. She loves organization and helping her team do their job seamlessly, which is why she’s a great fit for her current role.

Gabriela is also bilingual, speaking Spanish and English. She learned from her family in Mexico along with classes in school. She is a great addition to help our Spanish speaking Homie customers!

A fun fact about Gabriela is that she is a licensed aesthetician, specializing in corrective skincare.

Why Homie?

Gabriela first learned about Homie through Jennifer Gutierrez, who was already part of the Homie team. In her previous role as a personal banker, she would often work with people who were buying their first home and with loan officers. She always thought real estate was exciting. She knew Homie’s flat rate model was going to be the future and wanted to be part of that. After meeting Homie co-founder, Mike Peregrina and reading reviews of Homie online, she was sold.

Gabriela is most excited about Homie’s growth. She loves being part of a company that is expanding to new markets, nationwide. She feels like she has grown so much already professionally and can’t wait to see what the future holds. What makes Gabriela excited to go to work every day? She loves the vibe she gets from her team. She feels like her voice is heard.

“You are able to talk directly to the CEO and other co-founders at the company. When I worked at the bank, I could never get that close to leadership. If I have an idea, I know I can send an email or text to one of our executives and they will listen.”

Join the Disruption

If you want a career you love, want to help change the lives of others, and want to join a company in disrupting the real estate industry, check out careers at Homie!
Want to learn more about what Homie real estate agents do for their clients? Click here.

Read other Homie stories:

Homie Highlight: Chris Fryer
Homie Highlight: Jaime McAlarnis
Homie Highlight: Jennifer Gutierrez
Homie Highlight: Juan Gomez
Homie Highlight: Tahni Harr

Source: homie.com

Moving With Kids? How to Learn About the School Districts in Your New Area

Your search for the perfect house involves more than just the home itself. Beyond seeking out the perfect number of bedrooms and an entertainment-ready backyard, you also need to find the right neighborhood. Maybe that means walkability and proximity to a farmers market, or a commutable distance to your job. But if you have kids, buying a house situated in the right school district will likely move to the top of your decision-making list.

You’ll have plenty to learn about when it comes to an unfamiliar neighborhood. But how can you learn about the school districts there before you buy a house?

Where to find school district info

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that can point you in the right direction.

“The district’s website will give you the most thorough information about the district and the schools within it,” says Erik Schwinger of Chicago-based brokerage Baird & Warner. He also recommends reaching out to the parent-teacher association of a particular school to learn more about the school, its curriculums, level of parent involvement, and what the parents really think of the school.

You can also research schools and school districts online. Samantha Scalzo, director and broker at S&S Global Corp. in Miami, lists GreatSchools and Niche as two valuable sources of online information.

Alina Adams, author of “Getting Into NYC Kindergarten” and “Getting Into NYC High School,” also recommends SchoolDigger. However, she says there’s no substitute for visiting a school and gauging your gut reaction.

“No school is one-size-fits-all, and families may be surprised that a school’s reputation is different from what they see on a tour—for better or for worse,” she says.

There’s also another source for reliable information on a potential school district: your real estate agent.

“The most established and experienced real estate agents in a buyer’s area of interest—who have had clients with children in the school system, or have children of their own in the school system—will be able to provide an overall feel of the local schools,” says Tim Smith of The Smith Group, an Orange County, CA–based Coldwell Banker Team. “This knowledge and experience will enable them to best match a buyer with the schools that meet the particular needs of their children.”

__________

Watch: Home-Buying Checklist: 5 Things Parents Shouldn’t Forget

__________

What to look for

There are numerous factors you should take into account when looking at school districts. These include class sizes, special needs programs, inclusion classes, language immersion programs, advanced placement programs, arts, athletics, music, and other extracurricular activities, says Alison Bernstein, president and founder at Suburban Jungle, a real estate firm focused on buyers leaving the city for the suburbs. You also want to find out as much as you can about the staff.

“You want to know about the administration (principal, vice principal, etc.) as well as the teachers. What are their education and experience levels?” says Schwinger.

Ibrahim Firat, chief educational consultant at Firat Education, in Houston, says the process of finding a school is different for each and every student. He has written books on the topic of finding the right school, and has helped families who are relocating find the right schools before they find the right home.

“Just because a [school district] is ranked high in the region/state/nation doesn’t mean it is the right place for your child, so identifying the best-fit school is the first step to a quality education,” he says.

Source: realtor.com