What do today’s buyers want in a home?

NEW YORK – Aug. 5, 2015 – What building materials are trending in new-home construction? The latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation, reveals what buyers can expect to see in the new-home market.

1. Garages: The garage door is getting more enhancements, including windows, insulated doors, and doors made of composite or plastic materials. In 2014, 32 percent of all new single-family homes had bays for three or more cars – the most ever recorded in this study’s history.

2. Flooring: Carpeting continues to be the most popular flooring option for new construction, included in about 83 percent of all new-home bedroom installations. However, only about 40 percent of living rooms now have carpet. Hardwood flooring – both solid and engineered– is the second most popular type of flooring included in 27 percent of all new-home installations. Ceramic tile (which appears in 72 percent of all bathroom floor installation) follows in third place, making up 20 percent of all new-home floor installations.

3. Countertops: For kitchen countertops, granite continues to reign in two out of three homes (64 percent of new-home installations). Quartz/engineered stone is gaining popularity while laminate, solid surfacing and ceramic tile are losing appeal.

4. Appliances: Cooktops and wall oven combinations are gaining in popularity and make up about 24 percent of the market, compared to freestanding ovens (45 percent). Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators are gaining in popularity at 19 percent, while side-by-side has fallen to 28 percent of the share.

5. Kitchen sinks: More buyers are paying attention to their kitchen sink, with the single basin kitchen sink making a comeback, growing from 5 percent to 20 percent of all new single-family homes in the past decade. Also growing in popularity are granite/stone kitchen sinks (at 8 percent). One-piece cultured marble lavatories are continuing to decline in demand.

Source: “Material World: The Hottest Trends From the 2015 Builder Practices Survey,” BUILDER Online (July 29, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

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FHA eligibility OK 3 years post-foreclosure

WASHINGTON – Nov. 1, 2012 – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures home loans so banks can offer loans with lower downpayments and more flexible income requirements. For many Florida residents who went through a foreclosure, an FHA loan might be their best option to buy a home while prices remain reasonable and mortgage rates are still low.

Here’s what the FHA says about loans after foreclosures and short sales:

• Previous mortgage foreclosure: Borrowers are generally not eligible for a new FHA-insured mortgage if, during the previous three years, their previous principal residence or other real property was foreclosed, or they gave a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Exception: The lender may grant an exception to the three-year requirement if the foreclosure was the result of documented extenuating circumstances that were beyond the control of the borrower, such as a serious illness or death of a wage earner, and the borrower has re-established good credit since the foreclosure.

Divorce is not an extenuating circumstance. An exception may, however, be granted where a borrower’s loan was current at the time of the divorce, the ex-spouse received the property, and the loan was later foreclosed.

The inability to sell the property due to a job transfer or relocation to another area does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance.

• Borrower current at the time of short sale: A borrower is considered eligible for a new FHA-insured mortgage if, from the date of loan application for the new mortgage, all mortgage payments on the prior mortgage were made within the month due for the 12-month period preceding the short sale, and installment debt payments for the same time period were also made within the month due.

• Borrower in default at the time of short sale: A borrower in default on a mortgage at the time of the short sale (or pre-foreclosure sale) is not eligible for a new FHA-insured mortgage for three years from the date of the pre-foreclosure sale.

Exception: A lender may make an exception to this rule for a borrower in default on a mortgage at the time of the short sale if the default was due to circumstances beyond the borrower’s control, such as the death of a primary wage earner or long-term uninsured illness, and if a review of the credit report indicates satisfactory credit before the circumstances beyond the borrower’s control that caused the default.

On a short sale, long-term job loss or layoff would be considered an exception considered to be circumstances beyond the borrower’s control.

Note: Borrowers are not eligible for a new FHA-insured mortgage if they pursued a short-sale agreement on their principal residence simply to take advantage of declining market conditions.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Faster short sale guidelines start today

WASHINGTON – Nov. 1, 2012 – Starting today, Nov. 1, 2012, new short sale guidelines spearheaded by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) go into effect. The new rules impact all mortgages under the federally controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

One part of the change allows a handful of the nation’s larger mortgage servicers to approve a short sale without needing Fannie or Freddie to sign off on it. Servicers include in the agreement are:

• CMG Mortgage Insurance Company
• Essent Guaranty Inc.
• Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation
• Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation
• PMI Mortgage Insurance Company
• Radian Guaranty, Inc., Republic Mortgage Insurance Company

“We applaud the nation’s mortgage insurers for committing to work with us and our servicers to help more borrowers obtain short sales and other foreclosure alternatives,” says Tracy Mooney, senior vice president, servicing and REO at Freddie Mac. “By paving the way for more borrowers to avoid foreclosure, today’s announcement will support the housing recovery and help reduce taxpayer losses.”

In addition to quicker short sale approval, other changes become effective today. They including new guidelines for homeowners hit by a financial hardship, moved by the military or held back by a home’s second mortgage:

• Borrowers facing an approved hardship don’t have to be delinquent.

• Service members with Permanent Change of Station orders have greater flexibility, including the elimination of back-end debt-to-income ratios or a cash contribution promissory note.

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t pursue deficiency judgments in certain cases under new rules. Servicers will evaluate borrowers as part of the short sale approval process.

• FHFA gave servicers more consistent guidelines to process and execute short sales, and consolidate existing short sales programs into a single uniform program.

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to second lien holders to expedite a short sale.

For more information, visit the National Association of Realtors® website.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®