Archive for May, 2012

This is from the National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun. November 2011

Housing affordability is about the best it’s ever been, but tight lending conditions have made it difficult for buyers to take advantage of the good conditions.  For investors with cash, though, it’s a golden time to buy, and we’re seeing the investor community step up.  Its share of home purchases reached 22 % in August.  For investors who can hire out or manage property themselves, the attractive rates of return from rising rental income is a strong lure. Rents rose at a better than 3 % annualized rate in the third quarter of 2011, government data show, and private data sources imply even faster rent growth.

If annual rent gains stay near 3.5%, rents will double in 20 years.  If they reach 5%, rent doubling would occur in 14 years.

  Investors can anticipate solid home price appreciation over the long haul.  Using 2000 as a “normal” year in which the market saw neither a bubble nor a bust, the metrics on home prices in relation to consumer prices imply a 14% undervaluation, and in relation to rental rates, a 20% undervaluation.

With the bubble clearly gone, the future home price path should follow the future rent growth path.  That means home prices could also double in 14-20 years, though it is unclear when home prices will begin to catch up with rents.  But long-term investors buying today are sure to catch some, if not most, of the upward ride.

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This is from my home inspectors at Structure Tech. For those of you who are thinking of purchasing, or already own a home, it’s never too late to test for radon. Just make sure you are prepared to spend money to install a mitigation system if you have high levels because you will have to disclose it if you ever decide to sell.

Vacant Houses Don’t Have More Radon

July 12th, 2011 | 1 comment

As a Minnesota home inspector who does a lot of radon testing, I hear a lot of myths about radon being repeated over and over again.  I’ve actually heard other home inspectors perpetuate a few of these radon myths as well.

Myth: vacant houses have high levels of radon. The idea behind this myth is that radon will build up in a house while it’s sitting vacant, so a radon test on a vacant house won’t be accurate.  This simply isn’t true.  Radon has a very short half-life; as radon particles die off, they’re replaced with new ones.  A radon test conducted on a vacant house will be just as accurate as a test conducted at an occupied home, all things being equal.

Myth: radon is mostly found in older houses. In reality, the radon doesn’t care how old the house is.  Both new and old houses can have radon problems; we have found zero correlation between radon levels and the age of the home.

The one bit of unintentional truth to this myth is that starting in June of 2009, Minnesota began requiring passive radon mitigation systems in all new construction homes.  We’ve performed many radon tests on these new homes, and have yet to find a single new construction house with a high radon level.

Myth: opening the second story windows shouldn’t affect the radon test, because the test is located in the basement. The problem with this myth is that houses act like chimneys.  Opening the windows on the second floor might actually increase the radon levels in the home.  For a valid test, the windows in the house need to be kept closed.

Myth: radon tests should always be placed in the lowest level of the home. If the home has a crawl space or a basement that nobody will be spending any time in, why in the world would you want to know what the radon level is down there?  If you’re testing your own home, put the test in the lowest level of the home that you use regularly.  For a real estate transaction, the radon test should be placed in the lowest level of the home that could be used regularly.

Myth: radon tests aren’t needed for homes with walkout basements. While we’ve found that radon levels in homes with walkout basements tend to generally be lower, this is certainly no guarantee that the radon levels will be low.  The highest radon level we’ve found at a home with a walkout basement was nearly four times higher than the EPA action level.

Myth: granite countertops have an effect on radon levels in a home. This myth gained popularity in 2008 because of a media scare.  You don’t need to worry about granite countertops.  They’re fine.  You can read more about this myth here – radon in granite.

Myth: you need to hire a professional to test for radon. The do-it-yourself radon test kits that you buy online or at a home improvement store will work just fine.  It takes a little longer to get the results, but these kits are far less expensive than hiring a professional to test your home for radon.

Myth: holy water will keep radon from entering a home. Ok, I made that last one up.  That concludes my list of the most common myths about radon.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email– Home Inspector Minneapolis

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There are many diffferent scenarios but basically after a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure a buyer will have to wait 3 years from the completion date to buy again using an fha loan.  The wait period may not be required if the borower is current on the mortgage and not taking advantage of declining market conditions.  To buy with a conventional loan the buyer must wait 7 years with less than 10 % down, or 2 years if they have 20% down.  A buyer with a VA loan must wait 2 years.   So, experiencing a damaging credit event doesn’t mean you will never be eligible for a mortgage again.  If you experienced extenuating circumstances, your wait time may be even shorter. Things such as loss of a job, medical bills, or death of a wage earner are such circumstances. Divorce or the inability to sell a house after a job relocation do not qualify.  There are many reputable credit repair agencies available to help repair credit if necessary.

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