Month: March 2016

How to Deal With a Low Home Appraisal

re12Want to learn how to deal with a low home appraisal? In a competitive real estate market, a home being sold may enter into a multiple offer situation which could potentially raise the purchase price above the comparable sales in the area. In a situation like this, it is possible that the home appraisal for the buyer’s mortgage lender will come in lower than the purchase price. In a real estate market that favors buyers (home prices are soft or declining), sellers can also face a home appraisal that is lower than what they paid for the home if they bought the house at the peak of the market. Be aware that a low home appraisal can happen in any type of real estate market.

Why Do Low Appraisals Happen?

Here are a few reasons why a home appraisals may come in low:

  • Inflated home price because of multiple offers.
  • Declining real estate market due to a large inventory of homes and not enough buyers.
  • The seller has overpriced the home.
  • The real estate appraiser lacks experience and doesn’t understand the influences on value.
  • The real estate appraiser incorrectly selected his comparable sales for his report which may have resulted in a lower home value than what should have been assessed.

Solutions for Low Appraisals

If a low home appraisal is threatening to sink your sale, purchase or refinance, stay calm, here are a couple solutions:

    • The buyer can pay you the difference between the purchase price you agreed upon and the appraised price in cash, you can sell the property for the appraised value and get the difference from the agreed upon higher price in a lump sum cash payment if the buyer is able to do so.

 

    • If you are the seller of the home you do have the option of lowering the selling price. If you don’t you will run the risk of every buyer running into the same problem and not being able to get a mortgage because of a low appraisal.

 

    • The seller can offer to carry a second mortgage for the difference.

 

    • If the buyer feels they absolutely have to have your home and you are not willing to lower the selling price and the buyer cannot come up with a lump sum to pay you (as mentioned in option 1) you could accept having them make payments to you over a period of time instead of the lump sum.

 

    • Get a second opinion, have the buyer ask the mortgage lender for a list of their approved appraisers and select another company on this list and hope for a higher value, you could end up wasting another $300 on an appraisal but appraisers are not perfect and a mistake could have happened.

 

  • Cancel the transaction.

Have your realtor put in your purchase and sale agreement a loan contingency that if the home appraises for a lower value that you will get your money back (if you’re the buyer). If you are a seller being affected by a low appraisal propose on of the above options to your buyer if you would like to try and salvage the transaction.

The Next Real Estate Collapse

re11As daily commutes go, I have nothing to complain about when I point my car toward Sovereign HQ each morning. The traffic congestion on Interstate 95, South Florida’s main artery, is horrendous. So I take the scenic route, the coastal beach road known as A1A.

The views of the Atlantic Ocean are nice. But more recently, I enjoy the drive for a different reason. It’s a ringside seat to the extravagance of the now-deflating luxury housing bubble I warned about three months ago. Recent data point more ominously to a serious problem in this sector.

Each day, my drive on A1A takes me past what is the single most expensive new home for sale in the United States: Le Palais Royal, under construction for the last five years.

Situated on 4.4 acres of beachfront, the “spec mansion” features the Atlantic Ocean as its backyard. The front yard is a nearly 500-foot deep-water expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway – perfect for even the largest private super yacht.

The mansion’s soaring front gates, accented in 22-karat gold leaf, make it sort of hard to miss as you drive by. Just beyond the gates is a 60,000 square foot home with 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, an 18-seat IMAX home theater (with its 50-foot-wide screen), and a 30-car subterranean garage. The building plans call for a second phase on the vacant beachfront lot next door. That’s where the ice-skating rink, go-cart track, bowling alley and private nightclub are supposed to go.

And it can all be yours for just $159 million.

But the tide of money fueling the purchase of luxury homes, big or small, is receding as we speak.

Luxury Homes: The Next Real Estate Collapse?

Largely ignored in the holiday rush was the news that luxury home prices fell 2.2% during the third quarter – the first such decline in nearly four years.

According to the Redfin real estate brokerage, wealthy clients are stepping back out of fear from stock market volatility, and are worrying about tying up too much of their wealth in non-liquid assets, especially if another real estate collapse appears.

The decline is even more notable because luxury homes serve as something of a bellwether for the rest of the “non-lux” real estate market (which still rose just under 4% for the same period).

The original housing-bubble stocks of a decade ago might offer a clue on the timing. Shares of Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL), the nation’s largest builder of luxury homes, peaked in July of 2005 before starting their precipitous decline. But the stock prices of builders focused on the low- and mid-priced ends of the market stayed strong – at least at first. For instance, the shares of Lennar Brothers (NYSE: LEN), one of the biggest homebuilders in the country, didn’t crack until April of 2006.

Interestingly, Toll Brothers’ shares today are down nearly 25% from their post-recovery highs (to the lowest price in 13 months), while Lennar shares are just starting to break down.

California Dreamin’?

Chinese buyers have been key players in the run-up of America’s luxury home prices. And their influence is felt most strongly in California and the San Francisco Bay area, the hottest of America’s real estate markets this go-round.

Not coincidentally, it appears Chinese buyers may now be pulling back there as well, possibly ushering in the next real estate collapse. Home sales in California fell 20.5% in November – more than twice the monthly average (it’s traditionally a weak month prior to the end of year holidays). October’s home sales also fell a little over 5%, while dropping 1.5% in September.

For now, the real estate community appears to be dismissing the collapse of sales as the result of changes in new loan disclosure rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and what is usually a softer seasonal period for home sales anyway.

I don’t blame them. As a media consultant once told me back in my reporting days, “Never let too many facts get in the way of a good story.”

But the “Chinese buyers” real estate gravy train is grinding to a halt fast. Last summer’s 40% decline in the Shanghai Composite Index should have been the first clue. The second was the relentlessly positive “it’s just temporary” narrative spun by so many brokers and property developers who don’t want the ride to end. The third clue may be upon us here at the start of 2016 as the Shanghai index lurches lower yet again.

This Housing Bubble Is Set to Pop

House in a bubble. (Julianna Funk/iStock)
House in a bubble. (Julianna Funk/iStock)

For generations, it was always a good bet to invest in a place Americans call home. Housing had almost always increased in value, and you received a multiple of whatever you invested into it in your total return.

Until 2008 that is.

That’s when home prices tanked and our economy entered a recession, leaving people like you and me holding the proverbial paper bag when it comes to overpriced and overleveraged mortgages.

Since then, the root cause of the housing bubble has remained in place – easy-money policies by the Federal Reserve to fuel lending. It has led to another housing bubble.

One that is set to burst sooner than most are anticipating.

Since 2009, the Fed has pinned interest rates near zero in an attempt to prop up our aging, lackluster economy.

With a sub-2% GDP growth rate, it’s hard to believe that this has been a success.

But the easy-money policies have propped up aspects of the market, just not in the pockets of the everyday American. Instead, it has bloated the pockets of Wall Street and investors.

Had someone told you in 2006, 2007 or even most of 2008 to sell your home, you likely would have ignored them. Not many people on Main Street noticed the lending practices going on behind the scenes and understood the extent of the bubble that was in place.

But hindsight is always 20/20.

The problem now is spotting similar bubbles going forward.

I’ll be the first to say that timing the week, month or even year that a bubble will pop is extremely difficult. But that doesn’t mean you can’t notice when that day is near, and for housing it may be just around the corner.

The Truth About the Housing Bubble

There is a substantial divergence as we approach 2015. Prices have climbed about 50% since 2000 and rebounded strongly from the bottom in 2010 to 2011. But existing home sales – the amount of homes actually sold – have lagged and are up just 5% since 2000.

Median prices have topped their bubbled peaks set in 2005, but this time, the amount of homes sold is 30% less.

That means we are seeing prices set new highs as fewer buyers are in the market.

The rationale is that housing currently has a tight supply, meaning there aren’t enough homes to meet the amount of potential buyers. That may be the case to some extent. But right now, homes that are either in foreclosure, bank-owned or completely vacant are near all-time highs.

Clearly there is more going on here than just a lack of supply. The reality is that many buyers are investors, buying properties and sitting on them. This crimps supply, which helps raise prices.

Back in 2008, you could have heard the same story. The goal was to flip houses, or own a few of them to rent out. We are seeing these actions roaring back today.

And if supply was so tight, buyers would simply build new homes, but those numbers are no better than the existing home sales.

There’s a big discrepancy from new homes sold versus the price these homes are fetching – and this is supply that is practically infinite as we can always build a new home.

Something’s got to give, and it’s going to happen soon.

Fed-Fueled Crash

I see one of two scenarios at play. Which one do you think will ring true?

  • Homebuyers continue to fork over more dollars to buy properties while we sit with stagnant wage growth, stagnant economic growth and low-wage jobs being about all that’s created.
  • We are on the edge of a bubble larger than the one we experienced less than a decade ago as housing prices race back down to where it is affordable and sees demand from new buyers.

The Federal Reserve is held accountable for this fiasco. If it goes forward with a rate increase in the near future, it will be us who pay the price of another bubble.

There’s only one action to take if you ask me – lower your exposure to the industry.

In stocks, that’s homebuilders and mortgage originators. Avoid them at all costs. In your personal investments, that’s being prepared for another real estate shock.

These prices are unsustainable and due for a correction.

Rent or Buy Which Option Makes Sense for You

re9If you are the individual who is weighing the option of buying or renting a house, you need to consider a few factors. Your financial situation has to be assessed for your long-term planning and that it is not that simple as well.

Understanding your house budget and expenses

It is wise to review your household budget in comparison to the expenses before you begin looking for a new house. You have to find out how much can you afford to pay for accommodation without putting a burden on the budget.

You simply cannot go for rent or mortgage payments if you are unable to pay them on time. Several factors are involved both for renting or buying that should be considered prior to making a decision.

What are the requirements while renting or buying a house?

Your credit history and credit score are crucial and that they will be looked upon by the rental agency or the landlords for the mortgage or rent. You will be checked whether you are can pay the bills on time and are not overdue with the loans or the credit card balances. You have to check your score and credit history before applying for the apartment or the mortgage.

Other factors that are important include your strong employment history, W-2 forms and current bank statements that have to depict a good picture. A few rental agencies require professional or personal references as well as background check and contact information from the previous landlord respectively.

When is renting a viable option?

If you have uncertain employment: According to Evelyn Zohlen (financial planner), if you are unsure about your living paycheck and job situation, it is best to save money for the future living expenses. This will help you to build an emergency fund for you as well.

Limited funds: Renting is the better alternative when you do not have enough money for making the down payment or for managing the additional costs of owning the house.

Short time frame: If you have an assignment that lasts two years or you plan to move abroad in a couple of years, then renting a house is a better option.

When is purchasing a house a feasible option?

Buying a house only makes sense when you have the ability to cover the additional costs for owning a house. It is vital that you pay the closing costs and the down payment before you buy a house. It is seen that many banks receive a 20 percent down payment. This means for a house that costs 250,000 dollars, at 20 percent the down payment will be 50,000 dollars. So, the total amount includes percent in commission and another one percent in closing cost as well.