Monday, July 13, 2009

To Buy or to Build, is that the only Question?

On many occasions while showing new houses out on the beach, some buyers take the approach that they would rather get a loan to buy a vacant lot, then hire a local builder to build them their beach getaway. There are several differences when it comes to the financing options between purchasing an existing home or buying a lot and having a home built on it. I recently sat down and talked to Carol Warfield, loan officer with the Bank of the Pacific about some of the differences.

The first is the required down payment

On a conventional construction loan, you must invest 20% of the cost of the entire project, which would include land purchase and prep, cost of plans, plan review, building permit, well and septic design & permits if applicable, cost of construction including builders overhead, sales tax, etc. All closing costs on a construction loan are in addition to the 20% investment in the project itself, and generally run more than closing costs for a purchase loan.

With a construction loan, you can almost always count on two things - it will take longer and cost more than you expect. Another thing to watch is change orders. Once your construction loan is in place, 100% of the cost of change orders comes out of your pocket. 

On a purchase loan you know up-front what your costs will be. You will pay the required down payment, plus closing costs. There are many types of loan programs available for purchase loans - Conventional, FHA and USDA are among the most popular.

The second difference is interest rate

Single-close construction loan interest rates typically run about 1/2% higher than purchase loans interest rates. With either type of loan, you lock in an interest rate prior to closing the loan. On a construction loan, you pay interest monthly on the amount you’ve drawn during construction, and then the loan converts to a 15 or 30 year fixed rate loan, with principal and interest payments once construction is complete. You pay the same interest rate during construction and during the long-term loan. Because the interest rate is “locked in” prior to the home being built, the investor takes some risk by guaranteeing you that interest rate once construction is complete, so they tend to price them a little higher. The other potential hazard is that if you don’t complete construction in the allotted time-frame, you would either lose your interest rate lock, and get whatever the going rate is at the time construction is complete, or pay a fee to extend the interest rate lock.

On a purchase loan, the rate lock period is generally 30-45 days, just enough time to close the loan, so investors are more likely to price at current market rates. Once you’ve closed your purchase loan, there is no risk of losing your rate lock.


Another difference is the risk and hassle factor

A purchase loan is a pretty easy loan to process and close. All required documentation is gathered up front, generally two years income verification (tax returns and/or W-2s), two months recent paystubs, and two months recent asset statements. If you have non-wage income, you may be asked to supply verification of that information also, such as lease agreements on rental properties, trust agreements, child support, annuity or investment income, etc. Once your credit report is pulled, it is not a common practice to need an updated report before the loan closes. 

On a construction loan, all the same documentation is required up front, plus all the construction-project paperwork. Once construction is complete, some investors are requiring updated credit report and income documentation. I’ve seen instances where credit has deteriorated and income was reduced, causing the loan to no longer fit the program for which it was originally approved, sometimes making the loan ineligible for secondary market purchase. Then the loan would revert to a portfolio loan at a higher interest rate.


If you have any questions regarding new construction, new homes or builders in the Ocean Shores/North Beach area, please contact Jeff Daniel/Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Ocean Beach Properties at 360.581.9020.

Whether you’re looking a home loan, construction loan or refinancing, please contact Carol Warfield at 360.537.4044.

Carol started with Bank of the Pacific in 1997 as a branch manager and has been originating home loans since 2004. Carol has over 20 years of banking experience which includes helping customers buy, refinance, and build their dream homes. With her vast experience and dedication to each customer, Carol ensures your transaction will go smoothly.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Existing-Home Sales Rise in May

Existing-Home Sales Rise in May
Source: BuildingOnline's eUpdate
Thu, 25 Jun 2009

Sales of existing homes showed another gain in May, benefiting from favorable affordability conditions and a first-time buyer tax credit, according to the National Association of Realtors. May's increase was the first back-to-back monthly gain since September 2005.

Existing-home sales x96 including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops x96 rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.77 million units in May from a downwardly revised level of 4.66 million units in April, but remained 3.6 percent below the 4.95 million-unit pace in May 2008.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expected an improvement. "Historically low mortgage interest rates clearly drew buyers into the market, and housing remains very affordable even with a recent uptick in rates," he said. "First-time buyers also are being drawn off the sidelines by the $8,000 tax credit, which is helping to absorb inventory. However, the increase in sales is less than expected because poor appraisals are stalling transactions. Pending home sales indicated much stronger activity, but some contracts are falling through from faulty valuations that keep buyers from getting a loan."

Total housing inventory at the end of May fell 3.5 percent to 3.80 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 10.1-month supply in April.

Yun said the appraisal problem is serious. "Lenders are using appraisers who may not be familiar with a neighborhood, or who compare traditional homes with distressed and discounted sales," he said. "In the past month, stories of appraisal problems have been snowballing from across the country with many contracts falling through at the last moment. There is danger of a delayed housing market recovery and a further rise in foreclosures if the appraisal problems are not quickly corrected."

An NAR practitioner survey in May showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions, and that the number of buyers looking at homes is nearly 10 percentage points higher than a year ago. "This is the time of year when we see large increases in the number of repeat buyers, who are benefitting from sales to entry-level buyers," Yun said. "Investors appear less active, but are more prevalent in areas with large price corrections."

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said appraisals and the tax credit are key issues. "To maximize the potential for a housing recovery and subsequent economic recovery, we need realistic appraisals that are based on proper comparisons and done by a local specialist," he said. "In addition, the first-time buyer tax credit should be expanded to all buyers of primary homes regardless of income. Extending the credit into 2010 would allow more time for the market to catch up with underlying demand, in part because many families with children, who normally time their purchase based on school year considerations, do not have enough time to move before the start of school in late August.

"Freeing a pent-up demand in housing will absorb inventory at a faster pace, strengthen communities and stabilize home prices earlier," McMillan said.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,000 in May, down 16.8 percent from a year earlier. Distressed properties, which declined to 33 percent of all sales in May from 45 percent in April, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

"The decline in the distressed sales share likely results from an increase of repeat buyers in May," Yun said. "First-time buyers are concentrated in the lower price ranges, which include most of the distressed sales."

Single-family home sales rose 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.25 million in May from a pace of 4.17 million in April, but are 3.0 percent below the 4.38 million-unit level in May 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $172,900 in May, down 16.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 520,000 units in May from 490,000 in April, but are 8.9 percent below the 571,000-unit level in May 2008. The median existing condo price4 was $173,800 in May, down 21.9 percent from a year earlier.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 3.9 percent to an annual level of 800,000 in May, but are 10.1 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $243,600, which is 12.5 percent below May 2008.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 9.0 percent in May to a pace of 1.09 million but are 4.4 percent below May 2008. The median price in the Midwest was $145,800, which is 10.4 percent lower than a year ago. In the South, existing-home sales were unchanged at an annual pace of 1.74 million in May but are 8.9 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $157,400, down 9.9 percent from May 2008.

Existing-home sales in the West slipped 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.14 million in May, but are 11.8 percent higher than May 2008. The median price in the West was $197,700, down 30.6 percent from a year ago.