The national median home value has careened to over $200,000 for the first time, with a 7.4 percent annual gain rocketing it to a new high of $200,400, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
Values are on a swift upswing due to low levels of supply and spiking demand. There are now 11 percent fewer homes for sale compared to one year ago.
“The national housing market remains red hot and shows no signs of slowing, even as some local markets like the Bay Area have noticeably cooled,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “But even in areas where the housing market has slowed, home values are at or very near peak levels, selection is limited, demand is high and competition is fierce.”
Gudell advises, “Given these high costs and high competition, the most important thing you can do is get your finances in order so you know what you can comfortably afford, and find an agent who has experience with bidding wars and will help you stand out in a competitive market, especially if you’re buying for the first time.”

Americans See Homeownership as Good Investment

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors®’ measuring consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. Results found that 84 percent of Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision – the highest number since 2007.
Sixty percent said that they are concerned about affordability and the rising cost of buying a home or renting in their area. Housing affordability was ranked fourth in the top-five issues Americans face behind the lack of affordable health care; low wages and debt making it hard to save; drug abuse, and ahead of job layoffs and employment.
“Despite the growing concern over affordable housing, this survey makes it clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top reasons to own a home,” says NAR president William E. Brown
Most surveyed believe that the most important financial reason to own a home is that the money spent on housing goes towards building equity rather than to a property owner. Paying off a mortgage and owning a home by the time you retire was the next most important financial reason for buying a home.

Realtors® Highlight Flood Insurance Concerns

According to a statement from National Association of Realtors President William E. Brown, “Congress has less than four months to reform and reauthorize the critical National Flood Insurance Program. NAR is pleased that Congress is addressing the issue.
“NAR supports six of the seven bills that passed out of committee. We believe they represent opportunities to lower costs for homeowners, protect more at-risk properties and support a broader range of private flood insurance options.
“Unfortunately, we have strong concerns over elements of the 21 st Century Flood Reform Act that could lead to consumer confusion and market disruptions. It’s imperative that Congress work together to avoid a repeat of the challenges that emerged following the Biggert-Waters reauthorization in 2012.
“Reauthorization remains our top priority. Our Realtor® members know firsthand that this program is critical for the 22,000 communities that depend on it.
“Chairmen Hensarling (R-Texas) and Duffy (R-Wis.) and members of the House are to be commended for their attention to this issue. We look forward to working with them to improve the 21st Century Flood Reform Act as it works its way through the legislative process.”
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

What is a mortgage “Closing”?

The “closing” is the last step in the process of buying and financing a home. It’s when you and all the other parties in a mortgage loan transaction sign the necessary documents. The closing of your loan is the time when your loan becomes final and the funds are distributed and when you become owner of your new home.
Your closing will include your title insurance company, your lender, your attorney if you hire legal representation for your closing, your real estate agent and the agent for the seller.
In Maine it is customary for all the parties to sit around a table and sign all the documents at once. Sometimes the closing may take several days if the signatures of each party are collected separately. Some companies allow you to electronically sign documents, either in advance of closing or at the closing table. A closing may even be conducted by mail or even on the internet.
Regardless of who performs the closing or where it occurs, you will be committing yourselves to abide by the documents you sign that will have lasting financial implications on your life. Although it’s unlikely you will have the time to read all the loan documents, don’t sign if you suddenly realize you can’t make the payments or until you fully understand the loan terms.
Enjoy your new home!