Kathy & Terry Sullivan

Kathy: 978-927-9199


RE/MAX Advantage Real Estate
Boston's North Shore, Essex County MA

Offices: Beverly, Gloucester, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem MA

Luxury Homes Waterfront Properties Condos
Multi Family Investment Properties Land All MLS

Judith Coughlin


Buyer Specialist
RE/MAX Advantage Real Estate, Beverly, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Gloucester, MA

FHFA's Dramatic Easing of Mortgage Standards

FHFA's Dramatic Easing of Mortgage Standards

"Fannie and Freddie would not force repurchases from lenders of mortgages that are later found to have minor flaws in them, as long as borrowers have kept up with their mortgage payments for 36 months. Watt also said that lenders wouldn't be forced to buy back bad loans if flaws were later discovered in the reporting of borrowers' finances, debt loads, and down payments — as long as the borrowers would have qualified for the loans had the information been accurate." 


Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt on Monday announced plans to expand home buyers' access to mortgages by loosening up lending standards.

During the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual conference, Watt said FHFA will release guidelines "in the coming weeks" to allow increased lending to borrowers with down payments as low as 3 percent. FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also will help lenders who sell loans to the mortgage giants by easing standards on borrowers who don't have perfect credit profiles. The move is expected to help open up the credit box to first-time buyers, self-employed borrowers, borrowers who have had recent job switches, and borrowers who faced financial hardship during the recession. 

Watt said on Monday that Fannie and Freddie would not force repurchases from lenders of mortgages that are later found to have minor flaws in them, as long as borrowers have kept up with their mortgage payments for 36 months. Watt also said that lenders wouldn't be forced to buy back bad loans if flaws were later discovered in the reporting of borrowers' finances, debt loads, and down payments — as long as the borrowers would have qualified for the loans had the information been accurate. 

"Minor, immaterial loan defects should not automatically trigger a repurchase request," says David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "As a result, lenders will be more confident in offering mortgages to qualified borrowers."

FHFA said it will clarify to lenders when it will force buy-back loans that were issued based on inaccurate information. FHFA acknowledges that it failed to provide lenders with enough clarity in the past. That caused lenders to get cautious with lending after facing a flood of high-dollar settlements from loans they issued that later turned sour.

"We know that this issue has contributed to lenders imposing credit overlays that drive up the cost of lending and also restrict lending to borrowers with less than perfect credit scores or with less conventional financial situations," Watt said. Addressing such issues are "critical to ensuring that there is liquidity in the housing-finance market and to providing access to credit for borrowers."

Source: “Regulator Unveils Plan to Spur Lending by Fannie, Freddie,” Los Angeles Times (Oct. 20, 2014) and “Fannie-Freddie Clarify Buyback Rules in Bid to Ease Credit,” Bloomberg (Oct. 20, 2014)

Half of Adults Now Live In one-Person Households

Wave of Singles to Make Big Impact on Housing

Half of all American adults now live in one-person households, a rapidly growing number, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The singles demographic is likely to reshape multifamily communities and single-family home designs going forward, according to Builder Online.

In 1976, only 37 percent of adults were single. As of August, that percentage has bloomed to 50.2 percent, or about 124.6 million singles. It marks the first time that single Americans make up the majority of the adult population since the government began tracking such data.

“Thanks to the growth of single-adult households, floor plans will go from static to flexible as living arrangements change more frequently,” Susan Yashinsky, vice president of innovation trends for Waterford, Mich.-based Sphere Trending, LLC, predicts on Builder Online. “Analysts project that this group of adults will job hop more often, bring new types of living arrangements into the housing market (think friends buying homes together), and expect their environments to adapt to their frequently changing lifestyles as easily as picking a favorite Keurig coffee flavor.”

Affordability will be key, since single home buyers will have less income per household than dual-earner couples.

Also, “housing developments will need to embed elements of community that address the social aspects singles need, similar to what we have seen in multifamily new builds,” according to Builder. “Builders, developers, and designers who create housing for single consumers need to consider fresh concepts, such as communal sheds for lawnmowers and snow blowers, and even cars that can be rented as needed versus owned. Work/live spaces will evolve to reflect the growing number of entrepreneurs working from home. And, backyard cottages will bring solutions for related and/or unrelated adults sharing a single lot.”

Source: “More Americans Are Going Solo,” Builder Online (Oct. 6, 2014)

Agents Can Net You 22% More Than Selling Home Yourself (FSBO)


U.S. Economy Grew at 4.6% Rate in Second Quarter

U.S. Economy Grew at 4.6% Rate in Second Quarter

GDP Growth Indicates Economic Recovery Is Accelerating


The U.S. economy is regaining traction as the year winds down, boosted by an accelerating business sector and a modest pickup among consumers. Growth appears poised to post a healthy performance of more than 3% in the current quarter, according to several major forecasters, following a choppy first half of the year.

For Full Article - http://goo.gl/YsPbUQ

August New Homes Sales Surge 29.2% in Northeast, Up 18% Nationally

New-Home Sales Surge to 6-Year High, Up 18%



Sales of new single-family homes soared 18 percent in August, as greater confidence in the recovery swept across the housing industry, despite news that homebuilding tumbled 14 percent and existing-home sales fell 1.8 percent in the same month.

New-home sales in August reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 units, the highest level since May 2008, according to data released Wednesday by the Commerce Department. It also marked the second consecutive month of new-home sales gains.

"This jump in sales activity is in line with our latest surveys, which indicate builders are seeing increased traffic and more serious buyers in the market for single-family homes," says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

The boost in new-home sales is a good sign that recovery in the sector is moving "towards higher ground," adds David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist. "Historically, low mortgage rates, attractive home prices, and firming job and economic growth should keep the housing market moving forward in 2014."

Regionally, new-home sales posted the largest increase in the West, up 50 percent in August, and reaching the highest level sine January 2008. New-home sales jumped 29.2 percent in the Northeast, and the South saw a 7.8 percent increase in August — its highest level in 10 months. In the Midwest, sales were flat.

Source: National Association of Home Builders and “New Home Sales Race to 6-Year High in August,”

Inside the New-Home Market 


Existing Home Sales Improving Month Over Month, Still Down From Last Year

National Home Builders Association July Update Summary:

Existing Home Sales (homes, condos, townhouses):
July home sales up 2.4% from June which is the fourth consecutive monthly rise.  Sales are still down 4.3% from the year earlier.

July sales running at an annual pace of 5.15 units and outlook for existing home sales is positive.

First Time home buyers are now 29% of all purchases, up for the third consecutive month.
However, first time buyers are still down from the historical average of 40% of all sales.

Distressed sales:
Distressed sales are now below 10% of all sales for first time since 2008.

New Home Sales:
July new home sale were at an annual pace of 412,000, down 2.4% from June.  
2013 new home sales were 429,000 units.

New Multi-Family Construciton:
Multi-Family construction is at record levels. 94% of units were rental units and condo construction lags.

For Full Article:  http://eyeonhousing.org/2014/09/eye-on-the-economy-existing-home-sales-improving/


Top 5 Real Estate Video Types Consumers Watch

YouTube’s top 5 real estate video types


The booming consumer appetite for YouTube videos brings myriad good news for real estate agents and brokerages, especially since it is the second most used search engine on the planet behind Google.

But, before you grab a camera and set up a tripod, let’s talk about which type of video gives the best bang for your buck. Frankly, this is where many agents go astray. Some are under the impression a homebuyer’s top priority is to learn about an agent’s experience or the history of their company. While “About Me” videos play a role in the overall decision of whom to work with, there are three other video types that outrank them in the top 5, which are as follows:

1. Community/market-based videos (86 percent of online house hunters watch videos to learn about a specific community). Location. Location. Location. It’s still the buyer’s top priority. How’s the local market? What’s the area like? How does the school district rank among others in the state? Are there a variety of cultural activities available? Are shopping and restaurants within a short drive away? How about parks, recreation and public transportation? The list goes on. When you’re the only company in your area providing this type of video, you jump to the head of the pack.

2. Listing videos (70 percent of homebuyers watch video home tours). Proper staging and quality photography help showcase the property to potential buyers. Use props like a stack of fresh towels by the pool or a glass of wine with a cheese board in the kitchen to tell the story of what it is like to live in the home, and add mapping and point out features that make this home unique. Using video builds excitement and anticipation because it engages through sight and sound. Whenanimated graphics or moving images are combined with the human voice, our brains retain it much longer than text.

3. “How-to”/informative videos (54 percent watch video to gather information about the buying and selling process). Unless you’re looking for Lady Gaga, some trending viral video or cute kittens, one of the most commonly overlooked YouTube search terms is “how to.” With that in mind, buyers and sellers crave tips that help them gain leverage. How to prequalify for a mortgage and negotiate a purchase price. How to improve curb appeal and stage a home for showings. How to choose a home inspector. The topics are endless. Even better, these evergreen videos establish you as a local expert they can trust.

4. Testimonial videos (30 percent watch video testimonials). Of course, testimonials have always served to raise your credibility without tooting your own horn. Video testimonials bring it to another level. Watching happy, satisfied homeowners wax on about their agent’s awesomeness will always leave a more powerful, memorable impression.

5. “About Me” & “About Us” videos (25 percent watch “About Us” company and agent profile videos). There’s a reason this ranks in at No. five. Once you’ve established yourself as a go-to source for the information they want, through the video platform they love, potential clients already feel good about you.

Full Article: http://bit.ly/WjQ1rF

3 Reasons Mortgage Demand Dropping to Lowest Level Since 2000

3 Reasons Mortgage Demand Is Dropping

Mortgage origination volume this year will be lowest since 2000, about $1.15 Trillion

Freddie Mac analysts point to three main factors behind the decrease in mortgage originations:

  1. The refinancing boom has ended. From 2013 to 2014, mortgage applications for refinancings have fallen about 60 percent. Freddie Mac projects refinance applications will drop by another 50 percent from 2014 to 2015. When mortgage rates rise—as they are expected to soon—borrowers will have less incentive to refinance. Applications for home purchases are not expected to be able to fill the void from the refi boom.
  2. Home sales are down. Sales of existing and new homes have fallen about 5 percent during the first six months of 2014 compared to the first half of 2013, according to Freddie Mac. “A period of higher mortgage rates, a harsh winter, and slower economic growth compared to a year earlier contributed to the slowdown,” researchers explain.
  3. More buyers are paying cash. The number of borrowers who took out a mortgage to purchase a home is down compared to last year, but that could be due to more buyers using cash. In the first six months of this year, all-cash home sales were up slightly from 31 percent to 33 percent, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. Yet, “with rising home values and fewer distressed homes coming the market, expect the available inventory for all-cash buyers to trend down in the coming year,” researchers note.

“Overall, recent economic and employment improvements should help bolster household formation and contribute to gains in construction, home sales—and also mortgage originations,” Freddie Mac researchers note.

“However, even with these improvements, expect new and refinance mortgage origination volume for this year to be the lowest since 2000 at about $1.15 trillion.”

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, AUGUST 25, 2014     http://bit.ly/1tD3Mxw

Mortgage Rates Drop - 4.15% for 30 Year Fixed

Rates drop again as Yellen defers raising rates.  30 Year fixed now 4.15%.  

U.S. Home Size Levels Off

U.S. Home Size Levels Off, for Now at Least

The two-year trend of big, new houses getting even bigger appears to have peaked—at least for now—as more buyers seeking modest homes enter the market.

The median size of U.S. homes on which builders started construction in the second quarter registered 2,478 square feet, unchanged from the first quarter but still close to the all-time high of 2,491 set in last year's third quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday.

Entry-level and first-time buyers, who tend to buy smaller homes, have largely remained sidelined due to strict mortgage-qualification standards and tepid wage and job growth.

Economists and builders don't predict that median new-home sizes will drop sharply. That's mainly because the return of entry-level buyers is expected to be gradual as move-up buyers continue to account for the majority of sales in the next year or two.

Factors driving the rise in median sizes since 2012, in addition to move-up buyers' greater financial clout, include buyer preferences for more rooms, bigger garages, basements and wide-open living spaces like great rooms. A 2012 survey by the builders group of new-home buyers found that 47% of respondents wanted three bedrooms, 66% wanted a basement, 53% wanted a two-car garage and 19% wanted a three-car garage. 

The median size of new homes in the Northeast declined by 6.3% from the first quarter to 2,374 square feet in the second. 
The Midwest declined by 13.6% to 2,354. The South increased by 1.4% to 2,502. The West increased by 1.9% to 2,477.
For article: http://on.wsj.com/1oe5HTA
For Video - http://on.wsj.com/1tqaVQB