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June, 2007 Newsletter

++++++++++++ June 1, 2007 +++++++++++++++++++

A Special Note
Introduction: New Sales Rise, Existing Sales Fall
Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Increase in May
This Month's Tip: A Team Building Exercise

A Special Note

After nearly nine years of providing mailing services for newsletters,
Microsoft has stopped this service. This month's newsletter comes
to you from a new provider, one that features the same level of privacy
that you have come to expect. As always, unsubscribing is easy:
see the instructions at the end of this newsletter (see the link to
"leave mailing list").

Introduction: New Sales Rise, Existing Sales Fall

Welcome to the June edition of the Home Buyer's Newsletter.

Sales of existing homes dipped in the month of April, falling 2.9%
from March and 10.7% from April a year earlier. Analyists cite a
number of reasons for the declines, including changes in the sub-
prime mortgage market, rising interest rates and weather.

Prices declined nearly 1% from a year ago, from a median price of
$222,600 in April, 2006 to $220,900 in April of this year according
to the National Association of Realtors

In new homes, sales of new one-family houses in April 2007 were at a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 981,000, according to estimates
released jointly on May 24th by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department
of Housing and Urban Development. This is 16.2 percent (±13.0%)
above the revised March rate of 844,000, but is 10.6 percent
(±11.8%)* below the April 2006 estimate of 1,097,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in April 2007 was
$229,100; the average sales price was $299,100. The seasonally
adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was
538,000. This represents a supply of 6.5 months at the current
sales rate.


Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Increase in May

Mortgage rates showed a fairly considerable increase during the
month of May. According to mortgage company Freddie Mac,
30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.42% in the period that ended
May 31st, after beginning the month at an average of 6.16%, an
increase of over 1/4%. The increase was similar on the 15-year
fixed-rate side with rates averaging 6.12% after beginning the month
with an average of 5.87%. These increases are one of the largest
jumps in a single month in recent memory.

Is this rise a change in trend or just a temporary blip? Mortgage and
financial experts differ a bit on their assessments. Stay tuned!

For current average mortgage rates, see the
rates page.

For more information on mortgages, visit the
Mortgage Section

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This Month's Tip: A Team Building Exercise

One thing that purchasing a home is NOT is a solitary experience.
Even those who purchase a home without an Agent and pay cash
cannot do the whole process alone. For the vast majority of us
that will use an Agent and need a mortgage, building a strong
team of professionals not only smooths the process but can also
save money. And, the stronger your team, the more likely
that your home buying experience will a successful one.


Probably the most important team member--and the one
that will have the most effect--is your Agent. Not only
will the Agent be your conduit to available properties
and your aide in negotiation, they can also coordinate
the activites of other team members such as the home
inspector and the closing or settlement agent. A good
Agent can be worth their weight in gold, but a bad Agent
can create more problems than they solve.

If this is not your first home purchase, you may consider
attempting the transaction on your own, but for first time
buyers it is highly recommended by most experts that
you find a capable Agent and use them fully. Not only
will you have access to many more properties (those
who do it "on their own" are limited to those homes for
sale by owner--generally less than 20% of the market)
you'll have someown who can help guide you in the
right direction. In the vast majority of cases, the cost to
you will be nothing--since you will be looking at homes
listed by other Agents, the commission is paid by the
seller of the property you buy. With an effective Agent,
it is not a bad price to pay (nothing) for someone who
can assist you at almost every step of the transaction,
especially in selection of properties and negotiation of
selling prices.

Some Tips on Selecting an Agent:
* Choose someone who is very familiar with the housing
areas (both location and price) in which you are interested.
* Concentrate on Agents who do a large percentage of
their business with buyers, rather than sellers.
More information on the site:
Finding and choosing an Agent


Your satisfaction (or your aggravation) in the whole
process of buying a home has a great deal to do with
your relationship with your lender. If the application,
processing and underwriting (the final approval) go
smoothly, it can be a wonderful and exciting process.
Hit some snags and bumps in the road, though, and
it can quickly become a stressfull nightmare!

Whether you handle the mortgage process online or
offline, there are a few qualities that make the lender
a strong and effective member of your team:
* Up-to-date on the latest programs and rates
* Easy to contact
* Busy enough to be sucessful but not too busy to
keep in touch with you
* On top of their game-plan: Quick to answer questions
and handle problems

You can help your lender be effective if you quickly follow
up on the items and documentation they will need--pay
stubs, letters, verifications and the such. The best
mortgage lender in the world can't be an asset if they
don't have the tools they need from you.
More information on the site:
Mortgage hints and tips


The right home inspector can save you from buying
a defective house, point out potential problems in
the future and even give you valuable maintenance
hints. The wrong home inspector can make your life
miserable, let alone cost you a bundle of money.

Don't be cheap: A $250 inspection that looks at 40
components of a house is a much better value than a
$195 one that inspects only 10 items.

Don't let an amateur handle it: A "friend of a friend who
used to be a contractor" is probably an awful choice.
Hire a professional home inspector.

Look for experience: An inspector that does 200
inspections a year just naturally is more experienced
than one who does 25. They've seen more variables.

Ask for certifications: A home inspector should be
affiliated with a professional organization such as ASHI
(The American Society of Home Inspectors). If you are
using a contractor (be careful that they are not inspecting
to find themselves contracting work) they should be
Class A (or its equivalent) certified.
More information on the site:
Choosing a professional home inspector


Closing and settlement procedures will vary a good deal,
depending on what is customary in your area. You'll find
that even the terminology will differ--in some areas the
procedure of finalizing a home purchase is a closing,
in others, settlement and in others, escrow. In some
states in the U.S., closings must be handled by
Attorneys while in other areas, title companies handle
the transaction.

No matter what it is called or what specifics are required,
the closing agent is the last (and extremely important)
member of the team. Sometimes it seems as though
all closings have snafus and delays, but an ineffective
closing agent can create a real quagmire for a buyer,
severly delaying or even torpedoing a closing.

Get good, solid information before you choose a closing
agent. A couple of sources for recommendations for a
closing agent would be friends and relatives who have
recently closed on a home, as well as your Real Estate
Agent, who will likely have a list of several closing
agents in the area.


The little time you may spend evaluating and choosing
the members of your team can save you an enormous
amount of time, and, perhaps, a considerable amount of
money. Many of the mistakes made when buying a home
can be directly attributed to bad choices in the selection
of those who can give you assitance.

Next Month's Tip: Mortgage Preparations

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

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

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 all your endeavors!

The Team at the Home Buyer's Information Center

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