“Beautiful,” “ocean views,” “mountain views” and “gated community” are among the most popular keywords used to advertise homes online to West Coast home buyers, a recent study shows.
Nationwide, “beautiful” was the most frequent word in listings last year, according to a study of 300,000 listings conducted last year by Point2Homes, an online listing and property data portal.
“Hardwood floors” took the No. 2 spot and “stainless-steel appliances” came in third.
Among regional differences, East Coast listings were more likely to include the phrases “move right in,” “renovated” and “gleaming hardwood floors.”
In the New York City area, “closet space,” “sunny” and “oversized windows” were words used by agents whose homes sold fastest. Such features would appeal to buyers in cold-weather climates with winter coats to store and a dearth of sunshine.
Adjectives play a role. “Soaking tub” had more appeal than “bath tub,” and “private storage” topped “public storage.”
And terms differed by price point. “Beautiful” attracted average-income home buyers, but “private” appealed to the wealthy. Other terms used in the $5-million and up segment of the market included “guest house,” “wall of windows” and “wood-burning fireplace.”
SubZero topped the list of preferred brands, followed by Viking, Miele, Bosch and Whirlpool.
Meredith Galante | Nov. 13, 2012, 1:02 PM |
“Wake up and smell the coffee,” writes Michael Corbett, Trulia’s real estate expert and and host of NBC’s “Extra’s Mansions & Millionaires!” in his book Before you Buy! The Homebuyer’s Handbook for Today’s Market.
He’s talking about big chains such as Starbucks and Whole Foods. If you see them opening in a new neighborhood, it’s a sign that the neighborhood is up-and-coming, and therefore a smart real estate bet.
One of the best ways to stretch your buying dollar is to find a neighborhood that is in transition. Called fringe or transitional neighborhoods, they are typically close to major metropolitan areas and were once neglected and less desirable. Is there a trendy restaurant where a tattoo parlor used to be?
These neighborhoods are now beginning to enjoy a new life and your goal is the find them.
Has a Starbucks just opened on the corner or maybe a Whole Foods Market? These are all good signs that a neighborhood is on the upswing. You can bet that big chains like Starbucks spend a lot of money and time analyzing neighborhood potential before they open up a new store. So go ahead, tap into their market research and be their neighbor.
Home values fell for the first time in nine months, declining 0.1 percent from July to August, according to the Zillow’s August Real Estate Market Reports, which were released today.
But that shouldn’t be too worrisome, said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.
“Home values took a small hit in August, but this shouldn’t be cause for alarm,” he said. “The back half of the year is always softer than the front half, and this year is no exception. We’ve been encouraging folks to focus on the longer term trends and not monthly blips. Home values will rise a little and fall a little, month by month, in the near future, but we believe the overall trend will remain positive albeit still below normal rates of appreciation.”
Major markets that saw home values edge downward from July to August after experiencing prior increases included the Chicago (-0.7 percent), New York (-0.3 percent) and Boston (-0.2 percent) metros. Home values continued to climb in the Phoenix (1.6 percent) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (1 percent) metros, although the rate of increase was smaller in August.
On the rental side, U.S. rents continue to rise, climbing 0.2 percent month-over-month and 5.9 percent annually. For more information on August’s report, head to the Zillow Research page.
What are home values and rents doing where you live? Dive into Zillow’s data, available all the way down to ZIP code and neighborhood levels, here.
Author: Jay Thompson
Buying a house has never been more affordable. Low prices coupled with record low mortgage rates have made purchasing a primary residence, second home or investment property very appealing for many. Unfortunately, many purchase transactions fall out of escrow, some buyers are unable to qualify for mortgage loanfinancing and others cannot get their offer accepted.
In today’s market, buying a house requires diligence, a little bit of luck and a lot of planning. But most importantly, your expectations must be in sync with the market.
Here are 10 common pitfalls that could keep you from sealing the deal:
You have large cash deposits but no paper trail
Be prepared to source all cash deposits and transfers into your bank accounts. Are you doing side jobs? Do you get regular cash deposits from a friend or family member? All deposits and transfers from other accounts will need to be sourced.
Your gift money and/or down payment cannot be sourced
Getting money from mom and dad to purchase a house? That’s great; here’s what they will need to provide so you can secure a home loan stress-free:
- Signed gift letter stating the money is truly a gift.
- Full bank statement showing they had the ability to gift funds.
Your debt-to-income ratio is above 45 percent
Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the amount of a new monthly house payment plus other recurring monthly debt divided by your gross monthly income. Most loan programs require that this ratio be at or below 45 percent. You can determine whether a house is within your affordability range in two ways:
- Calculate your DTI: Proposed mortgage payment + all minimum monthly debt obligations ÷ gross monthly income.
- Calculate your maximum mortgage payment: Gross monthly income × .45 (45 percent DTI) − all minimum monthly debt obligations.
You’re self-employed and show losses on your Schedule C
You cannot have your cake with the tax man, eat it too and expect to qualify for the maximum house price. If you file your income taxes on a Schedule C be prepared to show strong positive figures on any one of the following line items (note: this will likely cause you to pay more in income taxes, so consult with a tax professional).
- Line 31 net profit (business use of the home can be added back for income qualifying)
- Line 12 depletion
- Line 13 depreciation
You take 2106 business expenses on your tax return
You’re a W2 employee, and you personally pay for business-related expenses out of your own pocket. Sounds great, right? Here’s the red flag: Lenders calculate 2106 business expenses as a debt and will take this annual expense and divide it by 12 to get a monthly figure.
You need a seller credit for closing costs
Many buyers today, especially first-time home buyers, are short on cash to close and need seller concessions for closing costs. But what if the seller doesn’t agree? Be prepared to pay about 3 percent of the purchase price in closing costs, in addition to your down payment.
Ideally, you should shop for your loan before making an offer on a house. If, however, your offer is accepted before you choose which lender or loan program you’re going to use, then you will be forced to do one of two things:
- Commit to working with a lender.
- Cancel the contract if you cannot meet obligations.
The house has structural and/or pest-related issues
These things happen, so be ready for it. If you’re going with a government-backed mortgage for your home purchase, you will be subjected to slightly higher appraisal standards than if you were going with a conventional mortgage.
You’re competing with multiple offers and stronger buyers
So how do you win? Start by asking your mortgage lender to close the transaction in less than 30 days. This increases your negotiating ability.
You have unrealistic purchase price expectations
This happens time and time again: Buyers are very particular about what they’re looking for — and what they’re willing to pay for it. Most buyers have to compromise at some point along the way, but it often takes multiple offers on several homes for this fact to ultimately resonate. A good real estate agent should be able to advise you of the reasonableness of your offer.
Scott Sheldon is a senior loan officer and consumer advocate based in Santa Rosa, California. Scott has been seen in Yahoo! Homes, CNN Money, Marketwatch and The Wall Street Journal. Connect with him at Sonoma County Mortgages.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Lawsuit claims ‘Trulia Estimates’ infringe on 2011 patent
BY INMAN NEWS.
The battle between the two most popular real estate portals has reached a boiling point. Property search and valuation company Zillow Inc. is suing rival Trulia Inc., alleging the latter’s automated property valuations infringe on a patent issued to Zillow last year. The suit comes on the heels of Trulia publicly filing for an initial public offering of 5 million shares of the company’s stock. Zillow went public last year.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in a U.S. district court in Seattle, Zillow alleges Trulia has infringed on U.S. Patent 7,970,674 B2. The patent’s title, “Automatically determining a current value for a real estate property, such as a home, that is tailored to input from a human user, such as its owner,” describes Zillow’s process for using information supplied by homeowners and real estate professionals to refine Zillow’s automatic home valuations, called “Zestimates.” Zillow applied for the patent on Feb. 3, 2006 and it was issued to the company June 28, 2011.
Zestimates have made the site popular with consumers and “have played a major role in Zillow’s success and growth,” Zillow said in the complaint. The valuations made waves in the real estate industry when the portal first debuted in 2006 and were a key differentiator for the company at launch.
Last September, Trulia rolled out its Trulia Estimates tool in beta, providing consumers with an assessment of a home’s worth. Trulia Estimates use an automated valuation model (AVM) that takes into account recent sales information for other homes in the area, and property characteristics taken from public records including the number of bedrooms and square footage as well as information provided by homeowners. Trulia Estimates launched nationally in March.
Zillow and Trulia both declined to comment for this story. Trulia is also in a “quiet period” during which the company is subject to a ban on discussing itself while in registration to go public.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 3.39 percent, down from 3.5 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 3.4 and 3.5 percent for the majority of the week, dropping to the current rate this morning.
“This past week, rates fell back down close to the historic low level we’ve enjoyed since June following the release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes, which suggested the Federal Reserve was more supportive of additional stimulus in the form of quantitative easing (QE3) than the market had expected,” said Erin Lantz, director of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.
“Now that rates have returned to the low plateau where they’ve spent most of the summer, we expect rates to remain close to this equilibrium this coming week as the market awaits more significant events in the first half of September,” added Lantz.
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 2.76 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.38 percent.
What are the rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgage Marketplace for up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state.