Posts tagged 22911

How do I know I’m Getting the Best Deal (on a loan)

Shopping for a loan is hard. Comparing loan terms and offers can be harder. When I recommend a lender, there is an incredible amount of conveyed trust in that recommendation.

A client asked me the other day –

“How do I know who has the best terms?”

So naturally I asked a lender I trust for his answer.

Matt Hodges with Presidential Mortgage wrote:

Well, there’s the following:

1. Rate & points & fees & lock in time frames

2.  Meeting commitment/close dates

3. Breadth of products

4. Uniqueness of products – i.e. closing prior to starting your job, gift for 100% of down payment, 100% LTV deals, etc.

We all should be .125% in rate apart on any given day, but you might see outliers.  For example, I had a rate shopper asking for a conventional 20 year loan and I was able to quote 3.875%, and no one else was better than 4% and some were higher than that.  There are a few exceptions to that pricing point, but in general it’s the value a loan officer brings to the picture to get to the finish line with the least amount of upset and on time.


I’d add to Matt’s last sentence with this: there is tremendous value in a lender (or any professional for that matter) who will:

– Foresee and anticipate problems

– Acknowledge problems

– Communicate problems

– If it’s their mistake, own the mistake and …

Fix the problems

Also. I like local lenders; as a buyer’s agent, they make me immensely more comfortable. As a listing agent, I value a local lender (whom I know to be good) tremendously – and convey that to my clients.

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Help Kickstart Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Education Coverage

I’ve long said that I’m better positioned to represent my clients’ best interests because of the knowledge and information that Charlottesville Tomorrow shares.

Now they’re asking for the community’s help to Kickstart their foray into covering the education side of the news.

Charlottesville Tomorrow has provided something extremely valuable – consistent reporting for many years. Here’s hoping they’re able to replicate this success in the school reporting arena.

Keep in mind – “Distance from Schools” and “Quality of Schools” are the two least-likely-to-compromise criteria for home buyers.

* Disclosure: I donated $50.

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Many Years of Blogging

January 4, 2005 I posted my first not-so-great-post here on RealCentralVA. So very much has changed since then that I can’t begin to list the significant, insignificant and surprisingly significant shifts in the real estate writing space (I was one of the first and some days feels like I may be one of the last), changes in the (real estate) technology space (iPhone to name one) or my personal or professional life (another daughter, new company). But this remains the same today as it did in 2005:

One aspect of real estate that has not and never will change is that this business is about people.

People make the decisions about where to move. People decide in which school district they will reside, and people choose with whom they will work. My job, each and every day, is to meet people and earn their business and their trust.

Thank You:

– To those who have read me for years.

– To those who have worked with me because you found me here. To those who haven’t.

– To those who have found value here in the home buying or home selling process (even if you didn’t work with me 🙂 )

– To those who comment, email, connect or lurk.

Neither the goal nor the focus of what I do here really hasn’t changed – to provide honest, transparent, real analysis of the Charlottesville – Albemarle and surrounding areas’ real estate market, growth, politics, lifestyle and anything else that piques my interest.

Thanks for reading; here’s to another year.

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Things I’m Watching in the (Macro) Real Estate Market for 2013

These are a few stories I’m reading/processing/mulling as 2013 begins.

5 Types Of Buyers Will Be Rushing Into The Housing Market In 2013 (I don’t think “rushing” is the valid term for the Charlottesville market, particularly as this story could have been written in 2012 with reasonable speculation; now it reads with more confidence.

Recap: Five Housing Issues to Watch in 2013 – I’m not quite sold that we’re at bottom, but I think we’re darn close. (Hopefully)

Sales Ratio: Existing to New Homes – The Charlottesville area is set to have a ton of new homes in 2013. Good, bad, ugly, it’s going to happen

– The Virginia General Assembly is close to reconvening. Watch out.

– Human Settlement Patterns – Mapping the Census: A Dot for Every Person – Just because this is an incredible display of the US population. (zoom into the Charlottesville area)

Census Dotmap.jpg

Should I buy a house right now? – Answer: It Depends.

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More Restaurants Coming to Stonefield

“Curated” …

via press release: (links added by me)

… announced the opening of several restaurants at The Shops at Stonefield including: Black & Orange, Parallel 38, and Cyclone Anaya’s.  These restaurants will join Jason Alley’s Pasture, Travinia Italian Kitchen and Burtons Grill to create a unique culinary destination in Charlottesville.  The Shops at Stonefield will open in November 2012.

So … Burgers, Mediterranean, Mexican. No big chains. Good.

Curious – Charlottesville prides itself on its local food, local restaurants, its general local-ness …

1) Will any of these restaurants source their food locally?
2) When was the last time you ate at a chain restaurant? (personally, I avoid them as Charlottesville has so many outstanding local restaurants)
3) What chain would you like to see? (if Olive Garden, please try these local options: Tavola, Bella’s, Vivace, Sal’s, Carmello’s …)
4) Anyone have early reviews/opinions on the soon-to-open restaurants?

Update: Interesting conversation on Facebook about this question. While I’ll never move the comments here to Facebook, I definitely want to link to the conversation so that I’ll be able to find it one day …

Update 2: Looks like Noodles & Company is coming to Charlottesville/Stonefield as well. Thanks to @Hunter for the tip!

Update: Courteney Stuart at The Hook has a nice story on the coming restaurants at Stonefield.


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One Reason Why Real Estate Closings Are Being Delayed

“I had four closings last week, and three were delayed because of the banks.”

“I had three closings this week and they’re all screwed up because of the banks.”

“Our movers said that every single one of their moves was delayed because of the banks.”

These are just a few stories I’ve heard over the past month. Parts of the Charlottesville real estate market are picking up, but one aspect that is adding tremendous frustration to the process is the lending side of the equation.

There are a lot of variables that can affect a real estate closing, but there is one truism – don’t schedule your move for the day of, or the day after (and to be safe, wait at least two days) closing. In Charlottesville, you don’t get the keys until the transaction is recorded.

This is not personal; most of the lenders are really nice. The system right now could justifiably be construed as a disaster. The “system” being those people who touch the loans is a mess. From the lender to the processor to the underwriter to the closers, the system is screwy. So …

Be prepared. Be prepared to be patient, to answer more questions than ever before – from multiple years of tax returns to a copy of your college diploma – if the lenders ask for it, it’s not because they want to annoy you, it’s because that’s what the system tells them to do. If they ask for it three times – that’s a pretty clear indication that the system is broken; don’t fight it, just do it.

From The Perfect Loan File in Forbes: (read the whole thing)

It all comes down to your proof. If the lender asks for a specific document, give them exactly what they are asking for, not what “should be OK,” – because it won’t be. This is where the approval process tends to go off the rails, when the lender asks for specific documentation and the borrower supplies something else. Here, too, is where both sides get frustrated. So if the lender asks for a bank statement and there are 5 pages for that bank statement, send them all 5 pages, and not just the summary. If you send them the summary page and they ask again, don’t complain that the lender keeps asking for the same thing when you never sent it in the first place. This may sound elementary, but the vast majority of mortgage approval process woes stem from scenarios just like this.

Why are lenders being so much more redundantly, infuriatingly stringent? Because they need to be able to sell their loans on the secondary mortgage market (you know – Fannie and Freddie). Now that there is some risk associated with making loans, lenders are being overly cautious. Related: How to Explain the Mortgage Crisis to an 8th Grader.

Such is life. Knee-jerk reactions are human nature (see: HVCC). We’ll get through this, but for now, be prepared for frustration, and use a lender you trust; I greatly prefer local lenders (with one exception).

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I’ll Know Housing Recovery in Charlottesville When I’ve Seen It

The housing recovery in Charlottesville (and presumably everywhere, but knowing this market is hard enough) is kind of like pornography.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. [Emphasis added.]

—Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.

How will the “recovery” be defined? Is now the time to buy? (or sell?)

First, we’ll know by hindsight. When we have the luxury and the benefit of 12 to 24 months of looking back, we’ll be able to tell.

Transactions – volume of transactions – what is normal volume of sales transactions in the Charlottesville MSA? I don’t know; homeownership rates are declining. Last year, 1755 single family homes sold in the Charlottesville MSA (including Louisa). In 2002, 2479 single family homes sold. I’d put the “sustainable” rate of single family home sales somewhere in between those two numbers.

Price – stability or appreciation showing themselves

Foreclosures and short sales – fewer than today to none.

Shadow inventory – known and dispensed with; no longer a question of uncertainty.

So … is the housing market in Charlottesville recovering?

Calculated Risk says:

The debate is now about the strength of the recovery, not whether there is a recovery. My view is housing will remain sluggish for some time, and I expect 2012 to be another historically weak year, but better than 2011.


Consider this snapshot, from which I’m trying to :

In Charlottesville and Albemarle:

107 homes went under contract between 15 April and 1 May 2011. 64 of those were single family. 23 were attached.

144 homes went under contract between 15 April and 1 May 2012 – a 26% increase! – 92 (30% more) were single family. 23 were attached.

In the Charlottesville MSA (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson):

156 homes went under contract between 15 April and 1 May 2011. 109 (70%) were single family.

186 homes went under contract between 15 April and 1 May 2012. 132 (71%) of those were single family.

That sure looks like we’re on the path to recovery, right?

In the MSA in the above timeframe, 22 of those contracts in 2011 were either short sales or foreclosures (6 & 16, respectively). In 2012, 19 of those were short sales or foreclosures (8 & 11, respectively). “A 14% decline in distressed contracts!” surely is a better headline than “3“, right?

It’s too early to tell with respect to foreclosures/short sales/distressed sales

Charlottesville Foreclosure Rate and Foreclosure Activity Information | RealtyTrac

My personal favorite:

When will U.S. house prices recover? Likely never. But that’s no reason not to buy.” and believe it or not, the article reaches some salient conclusions, echoed by many if not most of my recent buyer clients’ decisions –

That’s why prospective buyers should stop focusing on the vague hope that house prices will jump from here and focus instead on the functional value houses provide for the money. In most markets, they provide enough of that to make buying a good deal.

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