Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Our local Kansas City housing market is beginning to heat up this summer and the national economy is still showing signs of improvement. But, as a first-time buyer are you still on the fence? You could feel the pain if you don’t take action soon!!

Time is running out on the $8,000 federal government’s tax credit. Don’t be deceived by the December 1 end date. Remember, the purchase loan must be closed by December 1 in order to qualify for the tax credit. Having a signed contract or having loan approval isn’t enough for obtaining the credit.

Look at the timeline from the closing date backwards to see why you need to start NOW. The average time, from final signatures on the contract to sitting at the closing table and getting the keys to your new home, is generally 45-60 days. So, to meet the Dec. 1 deadline, you’ll need to have a home under contract by late September or very early October.

Are you thinking that it’s doable in only 2 months? Well, lots can happen during the home search and loan approval process, and two months can fly by fast. And then there are possible issues after the contract is in place which may affect the closing date. Please contact us, InSight Mortgage Group, to start your preapproval process now.

For first-time buyers the purchase process can take a bit longer than for experienced purchasers. Home buying is a complicated process, and you’ll need the guidance of a good realtor and lender.


Competition: Some neighborhoods with homes for sale (inventory) are selling fast in the greater Kansas City metro area. Certain areas are especially appealing for first-time buyers, and with the tax credit available only to first-time buyers, these areas are seeing a competitive market. Mix into that foreclosures with really low asking prices. Investors are very active in scooping up these low priced homes.

Contingencies & Disclosures: The seller must disclose any material facts about the property, including lawsuits or claims of ownership on the property, and any known property defects. If questions arise during the buyers review of the disclosure, final signatures on the contract can be delayed. Contingencies can also impact the negotiating process, causing additional delays.

Loan Approval: Right now, interest rates are at all time lows for credit-worthy buyers. But, new laws are impacting the approval process and lenders are requiring more and more detailed paperwork from buyers. Obtaining a preapproval prior to making an offer is a high priority in the purchase process.
Appraisal: The lender orders an appraisal on the property, which determines the value of the property being purchased. An appraiser looks at the interior and exterior condition of the property, and compares it to very recent sales of similar properties close by. Most appraisals are now ordered through a third party appraisal management company, adding another layer of time to the process. And, laws implemented recently also added more paperwork to the appraisal process, which impacts turnaround time for completion.

Inspections: It is generally recommended that buyers hire a professional company to conduct an inspection of the property. Depending upon the findings, if repairs are needed, negotiations are reopened and more time is required to come to some sort of resolution.

Holidays: When looking at a closing date it important to remember the upcoming holiday season. Many people are involved in the closing process for a real estate contract: the buyers and sellers real estate agents, lenders, attorneys, inspection companies, appraisers, appraisal management companies, and escrow/title company offices. A lot of people wait to the end of the year to take their vacation time, and especially near the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s not unheard of, unfortunately, to have crucial paperwork sitting in a pile on the desk of a vacationing worker.

Short Sales & Foreclosures : Offers on these properties almost always take much longer for an answer than traditional MLS marketed homes. Some agents have reported that the companies handling these homes are overwhelmed with paperwork, are understaffed, and that it can take up to 3 months before an answer to an offer is received!

With the encouraging signs in the housing market being reported recently i.e:
* Nationally there’s a 6 month supply of homes priced under $250k (CNBC)
* Existing home sales in June were up, 3rd straight month for increased sales
* Only 31% of all sales were distressed properties – indicating reduced inventory
* Median price of an existing home increased in June, to $181,800.
* Higher prices than six months ago, each month making small gains
those knowledgeable in the housing industry are predicting that average home prices may NOW be very close to fair value, and the bottom of the market is behind us.

If you, or someone you know, may still be sitting on the fence waiting for the “right time” to jump into homeownership, don’t wait any longer. Call us at 913-642-3334 or email us at michele@wantinsight.com or dickw@wantinsight.com to start your preapproval process. Be smart and invest in your future today! Blessings.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Encouraging Signs

I’m seeing less stridently negative headlines these days; how about you? Not so much doom and gloom; a bit more moderate. That in itself is what I consider good news!

We’ve all made lifestyle adjustments -- cutting back or eliminating non-essential spending, hiding the credit cards and paying cash, maybe even refinanced a mortgage loan into a lower rate to save a few hundred dollars a month.

Within the past few days additional positive news has surfaced – though not screaming headlines; maybe “page 2” style.

Monday, July 20 saw a economic survey released which indicated an easing in the economy, but not an end to the recession. Sara Johnson, IHS Global Insight’s managing director of global macroeconomics, said “ the survey provides new evidence that the U.S. recession is abating, but few signs of an immediate recovery”. She assisted the National Association for Business Economics with the analyzation of the survey.

The recession, which started in December of 2007, is the deepest in 30+ years, and also is the longest since the Great Depression. Most economists are looking to the second half of 2009 for the return of economic growth, but a sluggish recovery is what is expected. Also, the survey indicated a wide disagreement about if the economy had bottomed out or not. 55% of those surveyed said the bottom has not been reached, while 45% replied that the worst was over.

Also on Monday, new construction starts for single family homes were up for the second straight month. The numbers were higher than expected according to economists.

National real estate brokerage ZipRealty released inventory data indicating our housing market is beginning to stabilize. They look at 28 markets across the country. The drop in MLS-listed homes was 2.1% from May through June 2009. And, they saw a slight increase in the median list price, June over May. Many of the hardest hit markets, such as California, have seen dramatic decreases of inventory; 14 straight months of sales growth! And equally hard hit Florida has seen 9 straight months of sales growth too. The word this summer appears to be “affordability”.

With the first time buyers tax credit, historic low interest rates, declining inventory of homes, and increased buyer activity, we should see sales prices and homes values increase as we go into autumn.

Let InSight Mortgage Group analyze your specific financial situation and offer solutions customized to your needs. Don’t sit on the fence any longer; the time is NOW to take action. Please give us a call,913-642-3334 or email us at michele@wantinsight.com or dickw@wantinsight.com. Blessings

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick News of the Week

Most of the time it seems as if political activity in Washington D.C. is in slow motion. But this week several important announcements made news related to the mortgage industry. A quick summary:

$490M granted to Affordable Housing program: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act received additional funds of nearlly $490 Million for the construction and renovation of affordable housing in 12 states. The Treasury Department says the stimulus program is designed to contribute to economic stability "one community at a time" through the creation of much needed jobs and development of affordable housing. The 12 states receiving funds are: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont, New Hampshire and the Virgin Islands. The Treasury Department is also expected to award more grants in the coming weeks.

Loan Modification Efforts Need to Be Increased: Timothy Geitner, Treasury Secretary, is urging mortgge servicers to improve upon thier loan modification efforts so the administrations efforts to help struggling homeowners stabilize the ousing market will be successful. Srcterary Geitner sent 25 servicers a letter noting that a good start has been made, but "much more progress is needed." He indicated that there are many variations among servicers in their performance and in the borrowers experience, along with inconsistent results. He also announced that starting in August monthly reports will be issued showing each servicer's performance. Also, an expanded role for Freddie Mac as an auditor was announced -- with the abillity to take a "second look" at borrowers who were denied modifications.

And a reminder that the new Truth in Lending Disclosure requirements take effect on July 30, 2009.

At InSight Mortgage Group we are ready to answer your questions about how these, or other announcements, may affect your loan process. Call us at 913-642-3334 or email us at michele@wantinsight.com or dickw@wantinsight.com.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Expanded Mortgage ReFi Program

The Making Home Affordable plan, introduced by the Obama administration, has just been expanded to include homeowners whose loans are up to 125% of their home’s value. This allows more borrowers who are hit hard by deeply falling home prices to participate in the mortgage refinancing program. The previous limit was 105%.

Many parts of the country have seen drastic drops in home values and those borrowers were shut out of the original program. An example is Las Vegas, where almost 66% of homeowners owe more than their homes current valuation. A current report by Zillow.com, a real estate web site, indicates that about 20 million homeowners own homes that are worth less than their mortgages. Sections of Florida and California have lost 50% (or more) of their value.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said that the presidents plan “is already helping far more than any previous foreclosure initiative and with this announcement we will extend it even further.” The Treasury Department indicates that so far approximately 20,000 loans have been refinanced.

This newly expanded program waives the 20% equity requirement. However, borrowers must still meet other major requirements: being current on their payments and having mortgages owned or backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov provides details.

But, refinances are slower than originally predicted. There’s been a recent rise in mortgage interest rates, from the lowest rate of a 4.84% on April 28, to the current mid 5% range. Also impacting the decline in refinances is the rising unemployment rate. When the program was introduced, lenders were overwhelmed with requests and were understaffed, thus slowing the actual numbers of borrowers able to complete the refinance process. Lenders have not yet added enough staff to adequately handle the requests, so processing times are extended. All we can do is have patience.

Those with Freddie Mac loans can apply now with their current servicer, but those who chose a different lender need to wait until October 1. Borrowers with Fannie Mae loans must use their current servicer and also must wait until Sept. 1 for a refinance if their home loan is more than 105% of its value.

Another part of the program addresses loan modifications. Eligible borrowers who are at risk or in default may lower their monthly payments to no more than 31% of their pre-tax income. This helps those who can’t handle their monthly payments due to reduced income, etc. Also, mortgage investors, services and homeowners can receive incentives in order to participate in the program. Nearly 200,000 trial modifications have been initiated according to the Treasury department. Three on-time monthly payments must be made prior to making the modification permanent.

At InSight Mortgage Group our mission is to provide up-to-date information on available programs to meet the individualized needs of our clients. Please call us at 913-642-3334 or email us at michele@wantinsight.com or dickw@wantinsight.com with your mortgage or finance related questions. Blessings

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Don’t you love sharing good news? I know I do. All the gloom and doom of today’s headlines seen on TV, the internet, or even the paper, makes us a bit sour and irritable. We look for some joy or good news to brighten our day. I hope you find encouragemnt in the housing news presented below, for you and for our country's economy. It seems especially fitting on the eve of our country's Independence celebration; home ownership is a vital component of the American Dream. Happy 4th of July.

Part of our mission at InSight Mortgage Group is to educate our clients so they can make the best financial decisions for themselves. And to help achieve our mission, we research the market trends ( especially the good news parts which get buried deep below the negative headlines) and share this information with our clients.

Encouraging news on the home front continues. Existing home sales were UP 2.4% to a 4.77 million annual rate. This is the third month in a row showing increased sales. They’re now 6.2% above their January low. Additionally, the percent increase for the last two months is the largest since April 2004. Inventory of existing home dropped to 9.6 months from April’s 10.1 supply. And, the median price of an existing home INCREASED to $173,000.

New construction homes also saw a decrease in supply from April’s 10.4 months to May’s 10.2. Inventories of new homes are now down 49% from their peak in mid-2006, and are at their lowest level since 2001! And, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported purchase loan applications UP 7.3%

A recently released report from Harvard University indicated there will be millions more echo boomers than there were boomers who first grew the housing market. The report projects household growth between 12.5 and 14.8 million in the next 10 years. This report also notes that price declines and low interest rates have brought affordability to many housing markets across the country.

Important information if you're considering a purchase or refinancing your current mortgage:

There are changes in the mortgage industry - that are government mandated - taking place now and in the near future. These would be nationwide rules, though additional requirements could be added by individual states. The intent is to increase safety for the borrower, by providing more transparency, and adding steps to help prevent deceptive lending practices. Additional steps now add time to the closing timeframe. In the past it was possible to close a loan within 30 days; now 30-45 days will become the norm, for both purchase and refinance transactions. Basically, the new appraisal process of using a third party appraisal company and more documentation requirements, along with the new Truth in Lending disclosure requirements, impacts the entire real estate and loan process.
As with many past consumer related regulatory changes, we can anticipate cost increases; (think back to the US pharmaceutical business and how health care & drug costs have risen due to regulation).

So, for buyers, critical decisions will need to be made promptly: loan application, type of loan and rate locked. Then, inspections & renegotiations if needed. Anything that can affect the closing costs, price, or date of closing need to be addressed as soon as possible or closing can be delayed.

What do these changes mean to you, if you’re purchasing a home soon or thinking of refinancing? Well, getting a loan will not be as easy, or as inexpensive, as we have known in the past. Don’t be a “fence-sitter”, get into the market now – housing is still affordable, mortgage rates are still historically low, and the cost of obtaining a mortgage is still reasonable.

Call or email us at 913-642-3334; michele@wantinsight.com or dickw@wantinsight.com for the most current information on rates and programs to best suit your individual needs. Blessings