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December, 2004 Newsletter


+++++++++++ December 1, 2004 +++++++++++++++++++

CONTENTS:
Introduction: Existing Sales Steady
Mortgage Rate Update: Stability in Rates
This Month's Tip: Preparing for Repairs and Maintenance

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Introduction: Existing Sales Steady

Welcome to the December edition of the
Home Buyer's Newsletter, brought to you by the
Home Buyer's Information Center.
The Home Buyer's Information Center

Sales of existing single-family homes held steady last month,
setting a pace that was the fourth highest on record, according
to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales slipped 0.1 percent in October to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate* of 6.75 million units from an
upwardly revised level of 6.76 million in September. Last month's
sales activity was 5.6 percent above the 6.39-million unit pace in
October 2003.

David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said home sales continue
to exceed expectations. "The ongoing stimulus of lower-than-expected
mortgage interest rates was the primary driver of strong home sales
in October," he said. "Of course all of the other market fundamentals
remain sound, so we should only see a modest decline from record
home sales this year if mortgage interest rates gradually rise."




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Mortgage Rate Update: Stability in Rates

Mortgage rates remained fairly stable during the month of November,
which should contribute to a steady sales pace in the upcoming month.
According to mortgage company Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed-rate
mortgages averaged 5.xx% in the period ending November 25 after
beginning the month at an average of 5.70%. There was a similar
trend in 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also, which began the month
averaging 5.08% and ended at an average of 5.xx%.

30-year rates have spent much of this year under the 6.00% mark,
only rising above it for a period during the late spring and early
summer, only to retreat again for the balance of the year.

For current average mortgage rates, see:
Mortgage Rates
For more information on mortgages, visit the Mortgage
Section at:
Mortgages

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See links to LendingTree and other resources at our Mortgage
Loan Center:
Mortgage Loans

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This Month's Tip: Preparing for Repairs and Maintenance

There is so much involved in the preparation for buying a home--
investigating neighborhoods, meeting Agents, comparing
mortgages, inspections, closing and more--that is natural to
breathe a sigh of relief when settlement is complete and the keys
are in your hand. Once you have moved into your home and
settled in a bit, you'll probably want to take some time to prepare
for the repairs and maintenance of the house.

Obviously, if you have purchased a brand new home, repairs
(unless you have a propensity for breaking things!) should not
be a big concern in the early years (and, often will be covered by
a warranty if things do break early on). With previously owned homes,
though, repairs will be an issue sooner or later, depending on the
age and the prior upkeep of the home. It is entirely possible that
there may be some repairs that are needed almost immediately.
Maintenance will be a factor in all homes, although it will be
dependent to a large degree on the age and type of construction
of the home. Brick and vinyl sided homes, for example, will
require less exterior maintenance than will wood sided or stucco
homes.

In the maintenance category, here are some of the items you
will need to consider:

+ Interior and exterior paint
+ Landscaping
+ Deck maintenance
+ Carpet and flooring maintenance
+ Heating and air conditioning maintenance
+ Appliance maintenance

To see an example of a home maintenance checklist, go to
that page on the Home Owner's Information Center:
Home Maintenance Checklist

On the repair or replacement end, some of the items that will
need addressed at some point are:

+ Heating and air conditioning systems
+ Water heater
+ Roofs
+ Windows
+ Carpet/vinyl/tile flooring
+ Appliances
+ Deck repair/replacement
+ Siding

Budgeting for Maintenance and Repairs

To keep in control of the costs they will encounter in maintenance
and repairs, many homeowners develop a budget that allows
them to have a jump on expenses when funds are needed. They
will save a set amount each month in an interest gaining fund that
they will be able to tap when needed. How much you will want to
"put away" monthly into a repair and maintenance fund will depend
on a number of factors, including the age of the home as well as its
construction features. For example, a brick home with aluminum
wrapped trim will require less exterior maintenance (and less money
needing to be saved) than a wood sided home which will need to
be painted every 5-7 years as well as eventually need either
siding repair or replacement. A home where all of the appliances
have been replaced, or the heating and cooling system
is virtually new, will also need less of a fund, obviously, than one where
these appliances and systems are 10 or more years old. You may
never know exactly when replacements or repairs will be needed,
but if your repair and maintenance fund is in place, you will have some
or all of the funds necessary when they are needed.

Summing Up

No matter what the age, style or construction of the home you
purchase, eventually you will need to deal with repairs and maintenance.
The more you keep up on maintenance, and the more planning
you do for upcoming expenses, the easier (and in most cases,
the less expensive) your home ownership experience will usually
be.

Next Month's Topic: The Right Home for You

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The Home Buying Checklist

Many of our visitors have said that one of the most valuable
aspects of the Home Buyer's Information Center is the
Buying Checklist, where they can make sure that all
the bases have been touched. You can find the checklist
here:
Home Buyer's Checklist

As always, if you have suggestions for improving the
site, or topics you would like to see addressed in
this newsletter (or, if you have used the Home Buyer's
Information Center to successfully purchase a home),
drop us a quick line here:
Home Buyer's Information Center Feedback

A special thanks to all those who have written to let us know
that they have found the Home Buyer's Information Center a
helpful resource in their buying process.
Have a great month and good luck in your home buying process!

The Team at the Home Buyer's Information Center


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