August 2011 - Monthly Indicators & Housing Supply

Despite some choppy waters in August, there have been noteworthy shifts on both sides of the closing table. Buyer activity is moving back in line with historical trends while sellers are making fewer concessions in order to sell their homes. Falling supply and improving absorption rates in many regions also suggest that market balance is realigning towards neutral. Locally, a few indicators posted positive movement over August 2010, but do the rest of the numbers provide reason for optimism?

New Listings in the CMLS region decreased 7.5 percent to 1,281. Pending Sales were up 19.1 percent to 667. Inventory levels shrank 5.8 percent to 7,855 units, a positive supply-side improvement.

Prices dipped lower. The Median Sales Price decreased 10.0 percent to $137,000. Days on Market increased 11.1 percent to 110 days. Absorption rates slowed as Months Supply of Inventory was up 17.5 percent to 14.6 months.

The economy bobbed along just this side of positive in August. Consumer confidence, which often affects housing demand, showed some slack even as personal income and spending both increased modestly. Low interest rates, declining supply and stabilizing prices are beacons of hope in the harbor, but the recovery still needs wind in its sails.

-Article Courtsey of CLMS

July 2011 - Monthly Indicators & Housing Supply

At the height of summer, we're finally beginning to move beyond comparisons to the 2010 incentive market. Even so, sudden changes in sales volumes are likely due to factors occurring at this time last year. Qualified buyers may find more attractive opportunities now than during either of the recent tax credits. Interest rates should hold their ground around five percent, though the shift in the federal credit rating could change that. Some indicators suggest improving conditions, but let’s see just how we’re faring locally.

New Listings in the CMLS region decreased 20.5 percent to 1,164. Pending Sales were up 3.6 percent to 625. Inventory levels shrank 4.9 percent to 8,015 units, but consumers are still finding terrific opportunities. Strong affordability is partly driving purchase demand.

Prices softened a bit. The Median Sales Price declined 4.5 percent to $143,340. Days on Market increased 9.0 percent to 117 days. Absorption rates slowed as Months Supply of Inventory was up 21.6 percent to 14.8 months.

Second quarter GDP growth was just 1.3 percent after a meager 0.4 percent gain in the first quarter. We added 117,000 new jobs in July, a stronger gain than expected after an embarrassing June. Even though a budget deal has been reached, several challenges persist. Changes to Fannie, Freddie and the mortgage interest deduction are still in play. As consumers absorb distressed inventory and labor market conditions improve, the wheels of recovery grind on.

-Article Courtesy of CMLS

June 2011 - Monthly Indicators & Housing Supply

You may have noticed some "noise" lately about where the market is heading. Some accounts are optimistic while others, well, aren't. The good news is that local data provides a more reliable tone than national sound bites can offer. When it comes to hearing the market's true message, it may not necessarily be from the expected indicators, it may not be heard evenly across all segments and it may arrive in disjointed bursts. Let's listen.

The rate of inventory absorption in the CMLS region slowed as Months Supply of Inventory was up 28.2 percent to 15.3 months. New Listings decreased 0.8 percent to 1,539. Pending Sales were up 19.7 percent to 688. Inventory levels shrank 3.3 percent to 8,209 units, but even choosy buyers can still find top-notch homes.

Prices were more or less stable. The Median Sales Price increased 0.8 percent to $146,130. Days on Market increased 19.9 percent to 117 days. Affordability also improved.

On the national front, the interest rate dropped to 4.79 percent on a 30-year fixed conventional and 4.44 percent for FHA. The unemployment rate has been stable around 9.0 percent and initial unemployment claims have continued to fall. Wages and payroll jobs are also improving slowly. Debt ceiling negotiations and other background noises persist, while prolonged job growth is still the missing verse in the recovery song.

Article courtesy of CMLS.

Should I Buy a Home Now or Wait?

Everybody wants to know how to best time the market when buying a home. It's just natural. Especially if you're thinking about buying in a down market where homes prices are declining. You wonder how low they will go and whether you should wait, right?

Some Home Buyers Should Buy Immediately

You're probably thinking: "Of course, she would say that. She's a Realtor, and agents always say 'Now is the best time to buy'." Well, here is why:

  • If you are a seller who wants to move up to a more expensive home in a down market, now could be the best time. The longer you wait to sell, the lower the price of your home could fall.

  • If you can arrange for alternate housing, a smart strategy is sell now, wait a few months, then buy your new home.

  • If you sell and buy simultaneously, you'll still be ahead of the game because the price reduction on the purchase is greater than the loss on the sale.

    Consider the "Loss" on Selling Your Present Home

    For example, say your present house is worth $300,000, but because of high inventory and few buyers, you must reduce your price by 10%. So, instead of receiving $300,000, you would get $270,000 and "lose" $30,000.

    Consider Your Real Profit

    Now, consider this. Say you bought this home 10 years ago and paid $100,000. You're still ahead $170,000, less costs of sale, aren't you? (This ignores monthly payments, but you would make those if you were renting, too.)

    Consider the "Savings" on Buying Your New Home

    If you are planning to move up to a $500,000 house, which is located in the same distressed market, you could probably buy that house at that same 10% discount or $450,000. This would mean you had saved $50,000.

    Review of Selling and Buying Numbers

    1. So you "lost" $30,000 on the sale of your home
    2. But you "made" $50,000 on the purchase of your new home
    3. Doesn't that put you $20,000 ahead?

    Don't Forget the Impact of Interest Rates

    Which way are interest rates moving? Are they moving up or moving down? If interest rates are near an all-time low and beginning to inch upwards, waiting could cost you more than you would think. You might not be able to afford to buy a home at any price. Following is what happens if you're looking for a loan around $400,000.

  • FACT: Each 1/2 point increase in your interest rate gives you $25,000 less in purchasing power.

  • FACT: Each 1 point increase in your interest rate gives you $50,000 less in purchasing power.

  • FACT: Each 2 point increase in your interest rate gives you $100,000 less in purchasing power.

    Look at the Differences Among Purchase Prices versus Interest Rates

    If you put down 20% and qualify for an 80% loan, here are your principal and interest payments on the following purchase prices:

    • $425,000 sales price, at 8.25% interest, your payment is $2,554.
    • $450,000 sales price, at 7.75% interest, your payment is $2,579.
    • $475,000 sales price, at 7.25% interest, your payment is $2,592.
    • $500,000 sales price, at 6.75% interest, your payment is $2,594.
    • $525,000 sales price, at 6.25% interest, your payment is $2,586.
    The payments are almost identical. However, the home you can afford to buy a 8.25% is $100,000 less than the home you can afford to buy at 6.25%. If you wait for prices to further decline, the perceived value could be lost due to higher rates.
    A good strategy is to weigh all the pros and cons of real estate ownership before making the decision to buy or sell. Don't panic over newspaper headlines. Make an informed decision. Run your own numbers.

  • Sources:

    South Carolina Fourth of July Schedule of Events

    Friday, July 1
    Saturday, July 2
    Monday, July 4


    1.)                Investors are buying up houses and condos, in some instances paying entirely in cash. This is a good indicator that the market is ROCK bottom.

    2.)                What goes down, must go up. Homes prices are expected to rise.

    3.)                Good deals. Nationally, the cost of a house is the equivalent of about 19 months of total pay, the lowest level in 35 years.

    4.)                Interest rates are historically low.

    5.)                You own a real asset. If you own a home, vs a Stock you have a real asset that you can live in, rent out, or sell if you choose.

    6.)                Home mortgage could be less than rent. With all of the recent foreclosures, there are a lot of renters. Therefore, it is a landlord’s market.

    7.)                It’s forced savings.

    8.)                There are many homes to choose from that are priced competitively. All ready for you to call home!

    9.)                64% of Americans agree. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of all respondents polled in a study by Fannie Mae think it is a good time to buy a home, and nearly one in three (31%) think now is a very good time to buy a home.

    10.)            Buying a home positively impacts our local economy. The National Assocation of Realtors® estimates that each home sale at the median national sales price of $173,000 generates $30,792 of economic impact, and $58,529 of economic impact when new housing is taken into account. Because of the significant economic impact a single home sale generates, the National Association of Realtors® also estimates that one job is generated for every two home sales.

    For more information on buying a home in 2011, please contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544 or by email:

    FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Increases

    If you’re currently looking to purchase your home (house, condo, townhome) with an FHA Loan, the cost of that loan will be increasing soon. Effective April 18, 2011, the FHA monthly mortgage insurance premium will be increasing 0.25% for all loans with case numbers issued on or after April 18th.

    The net effect of the change is two-fold. First, the monthly mortgage payments will increase. That means more money out of pocket every month. Second, as the cost of the mortgage rises, purchasing power decreases. In this case, not by much; it’s likely less than $10,000. Though, if you’re close to your limit, that could have an effect on how much home you can afford. To avoid the fee increase, buyers should act quickly.

    Most FHA buyers will finance a 30-year term with the minimum 3.5% down, resulting in a 96.5% loan to value, and therefore will be subject to the 1.15% mortgage insurance premium.

    If you're approved, get your offer in now!

    No Fannie, no Freddie

    The Obama administration has offered three options for reducing the government's role in home loans.

    February 23, 2011
    The Obama administration took its first, tentative step this month toward a future without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the troubled mortgage finance giants. The Treasury Department laid out three options for reducing the government's role in home loans, each of which would phase out Fannie and Freddie and shrink or eliminate federal support for run-of-the-mill mortgages. Such an approach is likely to raise mortgage interest rates, especially for 30-year fixed loans, and could make it harder to get a mortgage during a financial crisis. But it would also greatly reduce the likelihood of taxpayers being stuck covering the cost if a downturn causes foreclosures to mount.
    Congress created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help lower the cost and increase the availability of home loans. Before the Depression, banks typically required mortgages to be paid off in one lump sum after five years. That's because banks' reliance on short-term sources of money, such as customers' deposits, left them ill prepared for the long-term risks posed by loans that wouldn't be paid back for years.
    Launched in 1938, Fannie Mae's original mission was to purchase and hold loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. By offering banks the chance to sell the loans they issued, Fannie Mae made it possible for them to offer more mortgages and to allow longer payback periods. The eventual result was the wide availability of consumer-friendly 30-year fixed-rate loans. Freddie Mac, which Congress created in 1970, made even more capital available for mortgages by buying, bundling and selling loans to investors.
    But Fannie Mae, which became a shareholder-owned company in 1968, and Freddie Mac, which has always been shareholder owned, combine public missions and private ownership in a dangerous way. Because Congress created the two companies and relied on them to promote affordable housing, investors and lenders assumed (correctly) that they wouldn't be allowed to fail. That made it cheaper for Fannie and Freddie to borrow money, giving them an unfair advantage over competitors in the secondary market for home loans.
    More important, the implicit federal guarantee encouraged the companies to take excessive risks, which they did by jumping into the market for subprime and other exotic loans late in the housing bubble. After racking up billions in profits for their shareholders and employees, they foundered in 2008, sticking taxpayers with more than $150 billion in losses.

    Let's Go Shopping!

    Average listing price in Lexington went down 0.78% to $218,869 from prior week.
    Median sales price in Lexington  went down 8.14% to $140,000 from prior quarter.
    Average price per sqft in Lexington  went up 3.45% to $90/sqft from prior quarter.
    There have been 399 price reductions in Lexington.
    There are 122 foreclosures in Lexington.

    Median sales price in Newberry went down 61.11% to $35,000 from prior quarter.
    There have been 39 price reductions in Newberry.
    Average listing price in Newberry went up 2.21% to $145,817 from prior week.
    There are 16 foreclosures in Newberry.

    Average listing price in  Columbia went down 0.03% to $188,026 from prior week.
    Average price per sqft in Columbia went down 3.95% to $73/sqft from prior quarter.
    There have been 1,195 price reductions in Columbia.
    There are 691 foreclosures in Columbia.

    Average listing price in Irmo went up 1.40% to $207,154 from prior week.
    Median sales price in Irmo went down 9.76% to $143,000 from prior quarter.
    Average price per sqft in Irmo  went up 5.88% to $90/sqft from prior quarter.
    There have been 170 price reductions in Irmo.
    The are 87 foreclosures in Irmo.

    Call Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544 to begin your dream home search!

    Free Money to Buy a Home!

    If you have been procrastinating about buying a home, get off of the fence! Rates are starting to climb and home prices are at an unbelievable low. If downpayment is an issue, consider this:

    Many lenders are offering the 5-to-1 down payment match. If you bring $500 to the table, they turn it into $2,500. If you bring $1000, they turn it into $5,000.

    SC State Housing Authority  - The Authority offers $5000 down payment assistance based on availability, which may be used toward down payment and closing.

    USDA Rural Development  - Rural Housing Direct Loans are loans that are directly funded by the Government.   These loans are available for low- and very low-income households to obtain home ownership.  Applicants may obtain 100% financing to purchase an existing dwelling, purchase a site and construct a dwelling, or purchase newly constructed dwellings located in rural areas. Some of the neighborhoods are closer into town than you think.  

    For more information on finding the perfect home and making it happen, contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544 or by email at

    What do real estate agents really do?

    One of the most complex and significant financial events in peoples' lives is the purchase or sale of a home or investment property. Because of the complexity and importance of this transaction, people typically seek the help of real estate brokers and sales agents when buying or selling real estate.
    Real estate brokers and sales agents have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their communities. They know which neighborhoods will best fit clients' needs and budgets. They are familiar with local zoning and tax laws and know where to obtain financing for the purchase of property.
    Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Agents must work with a broker. They usually provide their services to a licensed real estate broker on a contract basis. In return, the broker pays the agent a portion of the commission earned from the agent's sale of the property. Brokers, as independent businesspeople, often sell real estate owned by others; they also may rent or manage properties for a fee.
    When selling property, brokers and agents arrange for title searches to verify ownership and for meetings between buyers and sellers during which they agree to the details of the transactions. In a final meeting, the new owners take possession of the property. Agents and brokers also act as intermediaries in price negotiations between buyers and sellers. They may help to arrange financing from a lender for the prospective buyer, which may make the difference between success and failure in closing a sale. In some cases, brokers and agents assume primary responsibility for finalizing, or closing, sales, but typically this function is done by lenders or lawyers.
    Agents and brokers spend a significant amount of time looking for properties to buy or sell. They obtain listings—agreements by owners to place properties for sale with the firm. When listing a property for sale, agents and brokers compare the listed property with similar properties that recently sold, to determine a competitive market price for the property. Following the sale of the property, both the agent who sold it and the agent who obtained the listing receive a portion of the commission. Thus, agents who sell a property that they themselves have listed can increase their commission.
    Before showing residential properties to potential buyers, agents meet with them to get an idea of the type of home the buyers would like, and how much the buyers can afford to spend. They may also ask buyers to sign a loyalty contract, which states that the agent will be the only one to show houses to the buyer. An agent or broker then generates lists of properties for sale, their location and description, and available sources of financing. In some cases, agents and brokers use computers to give buyers a virtual tour of properties that interest them.
    Agents may meet numerous times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. Agents identify and emphasize the most pertinent selling details. To a young family looking for a house, for example, they may emphasize the convenient floor plan and the proximity to schools and shopping. To a potential investor, they may point out the tax advantages of owning a rental property and finding a renter. If negotiation over price becomes necessary, agents must follow their client's instructions thoroughly and may present counteroffers to reach the final sales price.
    Once the buyer and seller have signed a contract, the real estate broker or agent must ensure that all terms of the contract are met before the closing date. If the seller agrees to any repairs, the broker or agent ensures they are made. Increasingly, brokers and agents must deal with environmental issues as well, such as advising buyers about lead paint on the walls. In addition, the agent must make sure that any legally mandated or agreed-upon inspections, such as termite, heating & air and mold inspections, take place. Loan officers, attorneys, and other people handle many details, but the agent must ensure that they are carried out.
    Most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property. A small number—usually employed in large or specialized firms—sell commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate. Every specialty requires knowledge of that particular type of property and clientele. Selling, buying, or leasing business property requires an understanding of leasing practices, business trends, and the location of the property. Agents who sell, buy, or lease industrial properties must know about the region's transportation, utilities, and labor supply. Whatever the type of property, the agent or broker must know how to meet the client's particular requirements.
    Work environment. Real estate agents and brokers often work more than a standard 40-hour week, often working evenings and weekends for the convenience of clients. Although the hours are long and frequently irregular, most agents and brokers have the freedom to determine their own schedule.
    Advances in telecommunications and the ability to retrieve data about properties over the Internet allow many real estate brokers and sales agents to work out of their homes instead of real estate offices. Even with this convenience, workers spend much of their time away from their desks—showing properties to customers, analyzing properties for sale, meeting with prospective clients, or researching the real estate market. - Courtesy of Bureau Of Labor and Statistics

    For the Ultimate Real Estate Experience, contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544 or by email,

    Home Loan Checklist

         After you have received your prequalification letter, freeze your credit activity! The initial credit application that you fill out with your lender is not the final application.  The final application is signed at closing. If your financial condition changes during the period between the initial application and closing then those changes need to be addressed in the final application and loan is re-underwritten. A final credit report, called a “soft pull”, is required within 48 hours prior to closing to make sure there are no new inquires or accounts. Be prepared to offer explanation on any recent credit inquires.
         To ensure a smooth closing without delay, use the following checklist to have everything ready for your lender ahead of time.

    • $450.00 For application fee (to cover appraisal). Credit card or debit card preferred.
    • Current pay stub to cover a minimum of 30 days. (If you get paid weekly that means 5 pay stubs).

    • Copy of past 2 years W2’s

    • Most recent 2 years tax returns

    • Copy of driver’s license.

    • 2 Months of bank statements. All pages/all accounts. All large deposits other than payroll need to be explained. Document source of down payment.
    • Latest statements of assets accounts. i.e. 401K retirement accounts and terms of Withdrawal

    • Copy of the front and back of the earnest money check once it has cleared the buyer’s account along with an online account history tying back into the end of the last full bank statement provided.

    • Copy of purchase contract.

    • Name, address, phone number and email for current employer and prior employer with dates to cover a minimum period of two years of employment history.

    • Current address and any prior addresses, with dates, as needed to cover two year history of residence. If renting Please provide landlord’s name and phone number.

    • Choose your attorney and have contact information.

    • Choose home owners insurance agent and have contact information.

    • Copy of award letter verifying income, social security, retirement, etc.

    • Copy of business license if self employed.

    • For VA applicants please provide a Statement of Service from your admin shop (active duty) or Co DD-214 (non-active duty), a copy of orders and military id.

         For more information on obtaining a home mortgage loan, please contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty to get started! (803) 944-9544.

    The Truth About Investing in Real Estate

    Between holidays and snow, my sleep schedule has been a disaster, however, very informative. I have learned that late night cable television has not changed much at all.

    In flipping through the channels, there is one sleazy infomercial after another. Topping the sleaze-ball list, is none other than the promotion of real estate courses that are guaranteed to teach you how to make a fortune buying and selling real estate for little or no money down, and for pennies on the dollar”! But, that’s not all…you’ll also learn how to buy homes from the owners with no money down and have the owner give you the mortgage…but wait, that’s not all, you’ll also learn how to buy properties for as little as $200- free and clear from tax sales. The courses and mentoring are promised to put you on the path to financial freedom for the low, low cost of $49.95.

    Further, these fast talking “mentors” stress that anyone can do it. Then there are “actual” interviews of people who have reportedly gone from rags to riches…essentially overnight all thanks to the program.

    It’s all a bunch of bologna. Seriously, would you sell your home for no money down to someone you have never met and owner finance it for them? Sellers that offer the owner financing option are savvy. They know that with little money invested in a home, a buyer could leave them with a damaged, abandoned home. Afterall, they have NOTHING to lose. That is why the down payment is so much higher when you request a seller to finance.

    I feel quite sure that a quick glance into the backgrounds of these “real estate gurus” would reveal a history one “get rich quick” scam after another.

    While it is true that there is a lot of money to be made in real estate investing, it certainly does not happen overnight.

    Real estate investing is a full time job. Like any other business, it takes hard work, dedication, and ongoing education. The sad part is that most of the people that fall for these scams are young and genuinely interested in getting into the business of real estate investing.

    Do not waste your money on these scams! My best advice is to buy your own home. You can generally do that with no money down if you have decent credit. Fix it up and then either sell it or refinance it and use the profits for a down payment on an investment property. Get a real estate agent in your corner to ensure that you are getting the best possible deal. There is a fortune to be made, but you must crawl before you walk.

    For more information on buying distressed properties or for a free list of foreclosed homes in your area, contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544 or by email at

    Renting vs. Buying in 2011

    In a real estate market flooded with foreclosures, one would think that rental prices have decreased. Not so. In fact, the opposite is true. The average rental price in 2010 increased by 11.6% according to HOT PADS. The bottom line is that the increase of foreclosures in 2010 yielded a surplus of renters. It is not a renters market.

    While the average rental price increased by 11.6% in 2010, the average home price decreased by 9.8%. 
    Home buying has never been more affordable. In fact, the rate of home construction is the lowest since before the Second World War.
    There will never be a better time to buy.

    For information on becoming a homeowner in 2011, contact Hope Dorn with ERA Wilder Realty at (803) 944-9544. Let’s get started!