Lynne French – Real Answers
Q. What are some of the current trends in what home buyers are looking for?
A. As in every market, but especially this current economy, buyers are looking for good value. They want a deal. They are accepting less features on their wish list if they can get a lower price. Properties under $500,000 and especially under $400,000 in our area are selling like hot cakes.
Home builders identified 10 amenities buyers are looking for in new home construction. These ranked at the top: Walk-in closet in the master bedroom; separate shower and tub in the master bath; indoor laundry; a great room; higher than 9 foot ceilings on the first floor; low-E windows; energy efficient appliances and lighting; more linen closets; programmable thermostat and an insulated front door.
Buyers are also looking for smaller floor plans. “McMansions” are off the wish list of the majority of buyers. Over 50% of the homes sold range from 1,400 to 2,600 square feet.
Most seem to be looking for improved energy efficiency. They want homes with “green” features such as energy-efficient heating and A/C systems; efficient design; energy star appliances; more natural light; solar systems and extra insulation in the attic.
In 2011 “green” homes made up 17% of overall residential construction. By 2016 experts predict that number could climb to 38%.
Q. I just closed escrow on my new home. I have a huge stack of paperwork. What documents should I file away and keep? How long should I keep them?
A. You should keep the following:
- Insurance policies to show proof of coverage and keep a record of any claims for at least 5 to 7 years.
- The Settlement Statement (HUD-1) for the following year’s taxes, to show all fees paid. You should keep it for as long as you own the home because when you sell it you can add some of the fees to your base price to lessen your capital gains.
- The mortgage and note which spell out the terms of the loan and the Truth in Lending statement, which details your annual percentage rate. Keep this for as long as you carry this mortgage loan.
- The Deed which transfers ownership to you should be kept as long as you own the home.
- Any riders or affidavits from the sellers or you for 5 to 7 years.
Q. You have spoken in the past about the National Association of Realtors being a strong lobbying group. Which presidential candidate were they promoting?
A. The National Association of Realtors doesn’t support a particular candidate in the presidential race. They do, however, support individual congressional candidates who support the housing market’s interests. Their spending, this year, broke down about 54% for Republicans and 46% Democrats.
Some of the issues they are promoting are: Reforming the secondary mortgage market (Fannie May and Freddie Mac) and reforms that ensure mortgage availability not be so stringent that it is out of reach for majority of households; Extension of the mortgage tax relief – exempting under water home owners from being taxed on the forgiven amount in a modification or a distressed sale; Reform of federal flood insurance; Protecting higher FHA loan limits and reforming FHA rules to make condo financing more widely available.