Real Estate Insider Blog

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Best FHA Loans of 2018

By U.S. News Staff

For most Americans, the purchase of a home is made possible with a mortgage. However, saving a 20 percent down payment is an unattainable goal for many would-be buyers in areas with high home prices. Compounding the challenge are strict underwriting requirements, including some that were put into place to protect the housing market from a crash. Underwriting is the process mortgage lenders use to determine whether to approve a loan, based on the borrower’s risk profile.

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, loan program was created to help Americans buy homes following the Great Depression, and it remains a popular choice for people who need an affordable mortgage option. FHA loans are a popular solution because they allow for smaller down payments, while also resolving some of the underwriting challenges borrowers face. FHA mortgages are made by lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a U.S. government agency. With a government guarantee, the lender can offer more flexibility in its underwriting requirements, including credit guidelines and the size of the down payment.

“If a borrower has good credit but limited cash on hand, other government-backed loans are available for less money down,” says Stephen Moye, senior loan officer for Citywide Home Loans. “For a borrower with a bankruptcy, foreclosure or other credit issue, the FHA loan has a much lower barrier to entry.”

This guide ...

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Dog Etiquette For Being A Great Dog-Owning Neighbor


You love your dog, and firmly believe them to be the greatest boy (or girl) to have ever lived. This bond is one of the greatest joys of having a dog. However, when enjoying the company of your best friend, it is important to make sure you are not being a nuisance to those living around you.

Keep Them In

Your first task should be to make sure that your dog cannot run off into a neighbor’s yard. Install a fence around your backyard, and make sure it is high enough that your pup can’t jump over it. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs around $1,699 - $3,988 to install a fence, depending on size and material. This may seem like a big investment, but it is a necessary one in order to be respectful of other people’s property and boundaries.


Find Out Their Barking Patterns

It’s a common story: owners think their dogs are perfect, quiet angels, just to find out that their pet has been barking and howling incessantly when they are away. Petfinder has a detailed list of common barking behaviors in dogs, and the best types of training to curb them. A good tip is to prepare an exceptional treat or toy by marking it with your scent and giving it to them before you leave. This can make the absence bearable, and serve as a distraction.


Clean Up After Them

This should go unsaid. Clean up their messes on the street, and do your part to keep the neighborhood clean and poop-free. This is not only a...

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5 tips when making your first real estate investment

Real estate investment is considered one of best ways to achieve a steady income. According to a Bankrate national survey, Americans consider real estate to be their most favorite way to invest money not needed for a decade.

Whether you’re a real estate agent or investor, getting into the investing game is a challenge that needs careful consideration, especially in the beginning.

There are many different types of real estate investments. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but as long as you do your research, you will be able to secure your stability.

But before you take the first steps toward real estate investment, here are some tips to remember.

How to decide on a property

As an investor, it’s critical to work with the right people to capitalize on investment properties. An agent’s professional awareness about value, location and ROI of the property determines if the investor will make or lose money.

Whether you choose to work with another agent or go it alone — do your homework.

Look at 100 properties. Conduct extensive sessions and look at each property carefully.

Looking at multiple investment properties in all sorts of areas allows you to get a better understanding of the worth of different properties. Doing so will also ensure that you buy a property with a high market resale value, which will consequently move you toward your financial goals.

Many successful property investors use the...

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The last two years have seen the U.S. real estate market gain a remarkable amount of traction, surprising optimists and naysayers alike. Several important metro housing markets made impressive strides in 2017, confounding skeptics who predicted that runaway housing prices in some major cities would lead to diminished interest from prospective home buyers. Commercial construction meanwhile continues unabated in several regions of the country. In this commentary we'll look at the drivers behind the strength. I'll also explain why I believe 2018 will be the big coming out party for the real estate sector.

One of the reasons why real estate is a shoe-in for having a blowout year in 2018 is actually product of its recent success - namely, the forward momentum it has generated in recent years. The fact that most major metropolitan property markets have generated enough forward momentum in both construction and sales activity virtually guarantee a strong performance next year. The same could also be said of other markets, such as equities. Yet the stock market, unlike real estate, can reverse its forward momentum much faster which means one can never assume that a strong momentum market in the current year will necessarily translate into a stronger market the next year.

That said, contracts for developing properties are signed well in advance of the actual building, which in part explains the lagging nature of real estate trends. Due to the nature of real estate, the...

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How does the recent interest rate hike affect real estate?


Under a federal funds rate increase of 1.25 - 1.50 points, mortgage rates are expected to increase. Hovering around 4%, mortgage rates are projected to inch up slightly, towards 5%, under the new federal interest rates. Rising mortgage rates impact every aspect of buying and selling a home and should be closely monitored by all housing market participants.


Generally indicating a stronger economy, a federal interest rate hike suggests confidence in the economy and a need for higher rates to maintain market competitively. From a home buyer's perspective, as interest rates rise, affordability decreases. For example, a buyer who qualifies for a $400,000 mortgage at 4% interest will only qualify for a $355,000 loan at 5% interest. An increase in mortgage interest lowers purchasing power.

Buying a home under the current mortgage interest rates is the best way to maximize purchasing power and lock in lower monthly payments (assuming a fixed-rate mortgage). When the economy is expected to grow and is indicated to be in good health via a federal interest rate hike, the best time to participate in the housing market as a buyer is now. Benefit from the historically low mortgage interest rates and lock in a rate under 5% now.


Impacting sellers in a slightly different way, rising interest rates drive down housing prices and lower property values. For example, a seller can choose to list a house at $400,000, but rising rates may...

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When it comes down to it, the most important advice a real estate agent can give sellers is how to price their home. No matter how beautiful or well-maintained a property may be, how many upgrades it has or how well it shows, if a home is not properly priced, it’s going to be a tough sell.

The battle for agents most often lies with aligning what sellers’ think their home is worth with its true market value.

These disparate realities can be difficult to merge when working with a seller to set a list price or on a price adjustment. Here are seven pricing myths that often get in the away.


1. It is better to price the home on the high side because the seller can always come down. If buyers are interested, they can make an offer.

Well, not quite. If a home is overpriced, a seller risks losing potential buyers who aren’t stretching their search into an uncomfortable price range.

The asking price sets the stage and may invite or dissuade buyers based on the dollar amount. Just as you would painstakingly prepare your home for sale, you never get a second chance to make a first impression price-wise.


2. If a home is priced just right, a seller risks leaving money on the table. 

Actually, the opposite is true. A well-priced home tends to generate a lot of interest and can result in multiple offers.

A shorter marketing span brings strong offers that could result in a home ...

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How to Purchase Foreclosures

There are many advantages to buying a foreclosed property. Requiring thoughtful budgeting, real estate knowledge, and patience, foreclosures are an excellent way to acquire real estate at a lower price than would otherwise be possible. Carefully considering what type of foreclosures you're interested in and what your real estate goals are, foreclosures are a great source of real estate deals.

Choose a Foreclosure Stage

An involved process, foreclosed or distressed property is sold in various ways and through a variety of channels. Pre-foreclosure, auction, and bank owned are the three basic stages of foreclosure. Choosing a stage of foreclosure to focus on will allow you to tailor your buying approach.


Pre-foreclosure is the stage directly prior to an owner losing their home. During pre-foreclosure you can buy a home directly from the owner. A short sale, or a house where an owner owes more than the home is worth, is a popular sale method during the pre-foreclosure stage. Similar to a regular real estate purchase, a pre-foreclosure sale requires inspections, title insurance, and adequate financing prior to purchase completion.


A property arrives at an auction when the owner or owners were unable to sell, refinance, or pay in any way. The exact execution for an auction varies, but, generally, properties are sold as-is. Subject to any existing loans and liens, an auctioned property requires full payment, in...

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The prospect of a hurricane can be quite upsetting, especially for those squarely in the path of an upcoming storm. While your natural response may be to panic – and who could blame you? – there are some things you can do now to keep your home as safe as possible should a devastating storm come to call.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Due to the unpredictable nature of hurricanes, it's always better to be prepared. An emergency kit can give you access to the kinds of supplies you'll need should a crisis occur, and should include:

  • One gallon of water per person per day
  • At least three days of non-perishable food
  • A week's worth of prescription drugs
  • First aid supplies, like band-aids, bandages, antiseptic, and ibuprofen
  • Important documents, like credit cards, ID, passports, birth certificates, prescriptions, utility bills, and car titles
  • Backup power sources for computers and cell phones, flash lights, radios, and batteries
  • Clothing, including warm attire, clean socks, and underwear
  • Pocketknife or wrench
  • Tarps and other ways to make temporary shelter
  • Matches, lighters, or other fire starters

Stock Up on Water

When access to clean water is eliminated, it can be very hard to bathe or use the bathroom. Instead of leaving your well-being up to chance, stock up on water now. Fill bathtubs, sinks, and other receptacles with as much water as possible so that toilet tanks can be refilled and water is available for...

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Agents sell homes for more than FSBOs: study

Agents sell homes for more than FSBOs: study

  • Agents tend to achieve higher sales prices for properties than comparable FSBO listings, enough to offset their commission fee, according to a recent analysis.

Academic research has often cast doubt on the value of real estate agents, but a new study will come as music to their ears.

It suggests that homeowners will net roughly the same proceeds whether they sell through a real estate agent or take the FSBO (for-sale-by-owner) route.

That’s because agents tend to achieve higher sales prices for properties than comparable FSBO listings — enough to offset their commission fee, according to an analysis released by automated valuation model (AVM) provider Collateral Analytics.

This makes a strong case for hiring an agent, considering that agents allow homeowners to reduce the work, risk, and time of selling a home, said Dr. Michael Sklarz, the CEO of Collateral Analytics and a co-author of the study.

“Overall it is clear that FSBOs have a low probability of selling, and if they do they will likely net the same or less after closing issues, plus they are more likely to screw up on disclosures which may lead to lawsuits after the fact, when buyers discover material facts not disclosed,” added Norman Miller, who produced the study with Sklarz and is a real estate professor at the University of San Diego.

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By David Brothers

I've lived in the Tampa Bay area for 54 years, 41 of those in Clearwater and Largo.  Over time, I've owned, bought and sold multiple residential properties and watched my parents do the same.  I've dealt with numerous real estate agents as both a buyer and a seller, and I've yet to meet one I haven't liked.  Even the one I fired.  Seriously. 

That said, I have met a few who didn't inspire me much, and that has concerned me much more as a seller than as a buyer.  All the backslap-how-ya-doin' hug-smile-grin and lightening-rod enthusiasm in the world can't replace vision.  Agents sometimes complain that some buyers don't have much vision.  And they're right, but they could help.

Let's face it, we’ve all viewed a listing online that initially appears to be exactly what we're looking for only to find that the photography was way better than the actual colors.  Many realtors will offer a generic suggestion that perhaps a new paint job or changing out the carpet would “spruce things up.”  There we stand, struggling to suppress at least a healthy eye-roll.  Are they kidding?  How obvious is it that new paint would dramatically change things?  Why can't I be offered more “practical advice” that I could actually use to help me decide whether this home is an option for me or not?

What could seem like a minor...

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