Category: Charleston South Carolina Real Estate

Increases in Flood Insurance Inevitable – Facts about Charleston, SC Flood Insurance

The Latest News on Flood Insurance Changes

Luckily for us Senator Tim Scott has been on our side pushing for FEMA to look at our flood plains and rezone Charleston SC’s over 20 yr old flood levels. After 2015’s historic devastating flooding that wreaked havoc over almost the entire state not just the low-country, but including the midlands it is about time the FEMA flood maps be reconfigured.

 

The Senate and House have passed (March 2014) a bill to delay premium hikesCharleston Flood Insurance for years on hundreds of thousands of homeowners who buy flood insurance from the federal government. Important points are:

The House bill caps annual price increases in order to prevent sticker shock, a move that will slow the pace of the authorized transition to actuarially sound policies. It also reinstates grandfathering of buildings built to a previous code standard. The new legislation would delay for up to four years huge premium increases that are supposed to phase in next year and beyond under new and updated government flood maps. It also would allow homeowners to pass below-cost policies on to people who buy their homes. The 67-32 vote reflects widespread concern about changes enacted two years ago to shore up the program’s finances. The changes are producing sky-high insurance rates that are un-affordable for many homeowners in flood-prone areas like Charleston whose insurance has historically been subsidized by the government and other policyholders.

NEW FLOOD PRELIMINARY MAP CHARLESTON SC 2017

Homeowners who upgrade to a new policy will be allowed to do so without being assigned to a new risk category. Homeowners who overpaid under the new rules will be reimbursed.

One proposal, by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would proceed with the premium increases but cap them on most properties – including homes being sold – at 25 percent per year until the premium reflects the true flood risk. It faces almost certain rejection, though Toomey said it lines up with what the Obama administration wants. The administration said in a statement it “strongly supports a phased transition to actuarially sound flood insurance rates.”

The legislation is a win for coastal state Democrats like Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who have formed an unstoppable coalition with Republicans representing coastal areas and the Mississippi basin like Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.

The bill, however, contains no relief in the offing for 1.7 million owners of second homes, who are not covered by the Senate bill and who face annual 25 percent increases – provided they owned their home before Congress overhauled the program in 2012. They say the premium hikes threaten the viability of older beachfront towns.

(live5news.com)


As of March 20th 2015 the latest changes in flood insurance rates: 

Rate Changes

We all know the chances of a flood are usually slim, but if it does happen the effects can be devastating. So making sure you are covered correctly will help ease this possibility. As much as 75% or more of the low-country is considered in a flood zone or possibility of flooding. More than 14,000 homes in the Charleston area will be affected by recent changes to the new FEMA flood program. FEMA is changing the flood lines, and expect that the new changes will cost you money if you are buying a home in Charleston. The biggest thing to consider is to avoid buying a home built prior to 1974 and to be even MORE careful don’t consider buying a home built before 1995. As there were building codes that were implemented in the 90’s to combat the threat of floods and insurance providers consider this. In most cases the new rules for flood insurance will require almost every house being purchased or insured to have a current up to date elevation certificate done.

Depending on what is on the elevation certificate about where or how your home is situated as it pertains to the flood plain will determine your cost for flood insurance. Some other factors that will dictate your cost for flood insurance are the way the foundation was built, age of home, height of home, and number of foundation vents and their size (sq inches). There are a lot of factors that go into calculating your insurance costs so the best thing to do is to contact a licensed local agent to answer your questions. Increases in flood insurance premiums having negative effects on listing your home for sale. MORE HERE –>


UPDATE: 1/16/14: You may hear about a flood insurance premium delay in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that passed Congress this week – this delay is for implementing future premium increases on grandfathered (post-FIRM) properties only for the next 9 months. This does not address the devastating subsidized (pre-FIRM) point of sale premium increases hurting our real estate market.   The Omnibus Appropriations Bill prohibits funding for implementing future premium increases on “grandfathered properties” only. It does not include a delay for the home buyers who have already seen rate increases over the past year.

*The good news – the U.S. Senate plans to vote on legislation that would create a 4-year “time out” for both impacted home buyers and future increases on “grandfathered” properties. The Senate Majority Leader has promised the sponsors a vote on S. 1846 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which would delay any increases for 4 years; they are currently negotiating the number of amendments and amount of debate time.  The bill is expected to come up the week of January 27 if not as soon as today. Both South Carolina senators, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, are co-sponsors of S.1846. If it passes the U.S. Senate this month, it would still have to clear the U.S. House of Representatives and that is a high hurdle to clear — although Congressman Mark Sanford supports the bill.

SUBSIDIZED PROPERTIES
This includes Pre-FIRM properties below Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Pre-FIRM in Charleston County means start of construction or substantial improvement was before 1975. To determine the pre-FIRM date for every city and county in South Carolina, click here.

Primary residences:
Beginning when the policy renews starting October 1, 2013, rates will move to full actuarial rates at the time the property sells (this will apply retroactively to all properties sold since July 6, 2012).

Non-primary residences, commercial properties and repetitive loss properties:
Beginning October 1, 2013 rates move to actuarial rates and premiums will increase 25% per year. The only way to know your full actuarial rate and to find your maximum premium is to have a current elevation certificate. Access FEMA’s 2013 Rate Schedule for second/vacation homes here (which includes the first 25% step increase)
Note: Rates are per $100 of coverage.

GRANDFATHERED PROPERTIES
This includes post-FIRM properties that were built at Base Flood Elevation, but BFE has since been raised since construction OR the property was mapped into a different flood zone.

Rates will be phased out and be brought to new actuarial rates only after the new flood rate maps are adopted. This is expected to be completed in South Carolina in late 2014 or early 2015.

ALL OTHER PROPERTIES REQUIRING FLOOD INSURANCE
All other properties will see rate increases of at least 5%, but possibly higher (in the 20% range), but each property is different.

(Source: http://www.charlestonrealtors.com/) Advise your clients to speak to an insurance agent before buying.


 

Downtown Charleston South Carolina Flood Prone Areas

(area in white is the worst)

Flood Areas Downtown Charleston SC


 

The Streets in Downtown Charleston SC that are prone to significant flooding according to Google.


View Downtown Charleston, SC flood-prone streets in a larger map

 

If you don’t carry adequate flood insurance and you have a mortgage your lender will give you what is called FORCED PLACED insurance. Which is usually much more expensive then you would find on your own.

Secondly, flood insurance is flood insurance. There is NO shopping around for flood insurance. FEMA regulates flood insurance and its costs. Agents simply are the distributors of the policies. However, your insurance could vary in cost IF and only if the agent providing you the flood insurance quote makes a mistake in inputting the information therefore, affecting the rating adversely. 

In Charleston County, FEMA said all homes built before April 1971 pre-date the first flood map. In Dorchester County, the date is January 1982, and in Berkeley County it’s September 1983.

Homes built after flood maps were adopted will not see as much impact from the NFIP changes, but they could be affected by the new flood maps FEMA is developing for the entire United States, the agency said.

On Oct. 1, when parts of the new law kicked in, flood policies increased an average of 10 percent. Under the changes, subsidies are being removed from second homes, rentals and businesses, as well as dwellings that have had repeated flood losses. Homes sold in pre-FIRM areas are automatically required to have the much more expensive insurance that reflects the “true risk” of flooding. (Source – Post & Courier)-

Senior officials for NFIP said they are $24 Billion in debt following many recent disastrous storms in recent years as the costs and consequences of flooding continue to increase. “For decades the program subsidized rates and has made insurance available but didn’t reflect the true risk of flooding, and just like our health insurance system, artificially low rates and discounts are no longer sustainable”.

Rate changes are likely to affect owners of subsidized pre-FIRM non-primary residences, business properties, and properties that have experienced sever repetitive flood losses. Owners of pre-FIRM condos and multi-family units will also see their rates gradually increase. Owners of pre-FIRM primary residences will retain their subsidies unless the policy lapses; it suffers a severe, repeated loss’ or it’s sold to a new owner which is retro active to July 6th, 2012 when the legislation was enacted.

As FEMA improves its mapping technology and draws more accurate flood maps, some homes may now be located in a flood zone, or higher risk area, where the flood insurance is more expensive. Also, some insurance agents may adjust rates to correct previous mistakes made about the home’s features when they are re-evaluating a policy at renewal.

Below are the lists of things needed to get adequate flood insurance.

1.) An up to date, signed survey, with an elevation certification from a licensed professional (engineer, surveyor, architect) on the most recent FEMA form dated as of Jan 1, 2007. To see if your home is in a flood zone click HERE.

2.) 2 dated photographs of the home both front and back within 90 days of requesting coverage.

Definitions of FEMA Flood Zone Designations : Charleston SC Flood Zones

ZONE

DESCRIPTION

B, C, and X

Areas outside the 1-percent annual chance floodplain, areas of 1% annual chance sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 1% annual chance stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 1% annual chance flood by levees. No Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Insurance purchase is NOT required in these zones.

ZONE

DESCRIPTION

A

Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Because detailed analyses are not performed for such areas; no depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.

AE, A1-A30

Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. In most instances, base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.

AH

Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.

AO

River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Average flood depths derived from detailed analyses are shown within these zones.

AR

Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system (such as a levee or a dam). Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements will apply, but rates will not exceed the rates for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built or restored in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.

A99

Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding that will be protected by a Federal flood control system where construction has reached specified legal requirements. No depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
High Risk – Coastal Areas
In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to all of these zones:

ZONE

DESCRIPTION

V

Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. No base flood elevations are shown within these zones.

VE, V1 – 30

Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.

Nicest Neighborhood North Charleston SC | Best Subdivisions

Who’s to say what the nicest or best of anything as those terms are subjective, but I bring this article to you as my personal feelings as to what I feel is the nicest neighborhood in North Charleston. I have lived in the Charleston area since 1999, and there is no shortage of really nice communities here, but unfortunately the price of real estate can be out of the range of  a lot folks because of it’s proximity to the beaches of Charleston, and historic downtown. Being a Charleston, SC real estate agent it’s my job to help people NOT from the area find the communities they might like to live, and it’s no mystery locally that North Charleston unfortunately has a stigma of being the “not so good” side of our beautiful town. If you aren’t from the area as many if you’ve moved here to work for such corporations like Boeing, Bosch, Coosawand Volvo just to name a few and have heard bad things about North Charleston let me first start by saying that North Charleston is a great area with many great neighborhoods, but one that I really like is Coosaw Creek. As a Realtor I will gladly help you, and show you homes throughout all of North Charleston, but I simply wrote this article as a to feature this particular gated community. So look out for other articles about other communities in the Low-country. To see schools in this area click HERE.

Waterfront

So for those who have to or want to live in North Charleston I am writing this post to share with you my personal favorite neighborhood in North Charleston. Let me explain why I call Coosaw Creek the nicest neighborhood in North Charleston. Coosaw Creek is a gated community located approximately 30 mins drive from downtown and about 40-45 mins drive to the beaches of Charleston, SC. Let me start by pointing out the features I love about this neighborhood:

– All the homes are on large well landscaped lots (which is hard to find in all of Charleston),
– Large mature trees
– Custom-built homes [Many of those homes are brick] – also which is hard to find afford-ably in Charleston.
– Gated

The best part of Coosaw Creek neighborhood is the country club. It features one of the nicest 18 hole golf courses in Charleston with a driving range, well manicured fairways, and greens, great course layout and upscale club house for dining, entertaining, and special events. The golf course has many ponds with many local species of fresh water fish such as large mouth bass, bluegill, and shell crackers to which children can be seen fishing. Local wild life can be seen all over the course as well such as herons, egrets, ibis, turtles and the occasional alligator. The Coosaw Creek community also has multiple hard court tennis facilities ready for the most accomplished players. So if you are relocating to our beautiful town we call Charleston and the north area is where you might be considering then give Coosaw Creek a look, because I think you too will like it as much as I do. If you’d like to see homes in Coosaw Creek search homes listings below and I’d be glad to show them to you. If you’d like to see other homes in other communities in North Charleston, SC see below. If the country club kind of neighborhood isn’t for you my other favorites I’d consider is The Refuge at Whitehall , Cedar Grove, Ashborough East, Mateeba Estates & Indigo Fields .

All North Charleston Subdivisions

Disclaimer: this is ONLY used as an opinion piece.   Fair Housing Act


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Home Sales Market Trends | Check Your City’s Home (Real Estate) Sales Values

Charleston SC Real Estate Market Trends

Average price per square foot, and average sales price are the two largest indicators that both prospective buyers should look at as well as those considering selling their houses. If you are selling you want to make sure you’re trying to sell at the peak of the market, and if you’re a buyer vice versa, AND is the area you’re considering buying a good one? CHARLESTON, SC—(December 10, 2015) 1,029 homes sold in November in the region at a median price of $246,000 according to preliminary data released today by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® (CTAR). In November 2014, 987 homes sold at a median price of $222,067. Year-to-date data shows that sales volume is 14% ahead of where it was last year, with 14,758 sales through November 2015 and the regional median price has increased by 5.3%, currently $228,000. Through November 2014, 12,933 homes had sold at a median price of $216,352. Inventory has declined about 15% from 2014. There are currently 5,390 homes listed as “active” for sale in the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service (CTMLS).
National Real Estate Sales Trends By Metropolitan City
Mt PleasantJames IslandDaniel IslandWest AshleyDowntownFolly BeachIsle of PalmsSullivans IslandKiawah IslandJohn's Island

Average Price Per Sq Ft Sold Homes Charleston SC

Mt PleasantJames IslandDaniel IslandWest AshleyDowntownFolly BeachIsle of PalmsSullivans IslandKiawah IslandJohn's Island
Housing vacancies are currently at the lowest levels since at least 2005, according to the Census Bureau estimates. Nationally, the rental vacancy rate was 7.3 percent while homeowner housing rate was 1.9 percent for the third quarter 2015.
Housing Vacancies In Charleston SC

Investment Property Charleston SC | Income Producing Real Estate

CHARLESTON SC INVESTMENT PROPERTIES & INCOME PRODUCING REAL ESTATE

For investors in Charleston SC the real estate game is a tricky one. We all made thousands and — probably millions if you add it all up — flipping houses, leasing offices and renovating condos. Then the real estate market collapsed, throwing the U.S. into the 2007-2009 recession.

Now the prognosis for real estate investments is looking much better, though it’s anything but simple. Some commercial real estate has rebounded, with investors craving income that real estate provides, while Low-country residential Charleston real estate — particularly single-family homes — may be at once-in-a-lifetime bargain prices.

Four top experts were asked for their take on the the opportunities and potential pitfalls facing real estate investors in the coming years. Edited excerpts of their interviews follow:

Jim Sullivan, managing director of REIT research, Green Street Advisors

Every diversified investor should have some exposure to commercial real estate, and REITs [real estate investment trusts] provide a terrific, transparent and liquid way to get that exposure. Operating fundamentals in most property types range from good to great, with good being the shopping center business and industrial business and great being the apartment business. The economy is not doing great, but the silver lining for commercial real estate is how little new supply is coming on the market. Too much new commercial construction is typically what puts a halt to real estate recoveries. This time around, it’s just not an issue.

Multi-Family Income Properties

 

REITs tend to be specialized by property type. You can pick and choose, depending on what your economic outlook might be. If your forecast is a little rosier, you’d want to be in property types that respond well in economic recoveries — hotels, for example, or REITs that own shopping centers with lots of small tenants. If you wanted to be a bit more defensive, health care REITs are a terrific place to be. When investing in Charleston real estate the safe bet would obviously be in tourism based avenues considering that is the most consistent driver of revenue.

The biggest opportunity is buying distressed single-family homes, because that market has been completely beat up. The next biggest opportunity is buying land because very few people have been focused on it. If you have a long-term view, you’ll probably see a significant multiple return. Buying land is a complicated business, though. Mom-and-pop investors should not be buying land.

Lauren Pressman, director of investment research at wealth management firm Aspiriant

The U.S. is in a period of sustained but very slow growth. Job reports are huge factors for real estate, because jobs create demand for housing, for offices, for travel and at retail establishments. We’re wary of things like retail and office, except in very unique circumstances. Multifamily real estate (apartment buildings) arguably had all the tail winds at its back to do the best of all asset classes. However, be careful. There is so much capital chasing multifamily, and that can lift prices beyond a point where your return is commensurate with risk.

No matter what your strategy is always be careful and have a good local agent to help you navigate through the maze of options out there for investing in real estate in Charleston or anywhere. Find a great contractor in Charleston and let them help you with the renovations, and repair necessary to get a C.O. and move onto the next real estate opportunity.

VACATION RENTALS

One of the long tried and true income producing real estate investments popular in Charleston area is in beachfront homes or resort vacation rentals. It’s no mystery that homes in beach communities are very attractive year round and hundreds of thousands of visitors come to our beaches in S.C. to unwind. Homes for sale on the Isle of Palms and in Wild Dunes real estate make big money on weekly vacation rentals for their owners. Many developers and investors will even buy an existing home, tear it down and build a new one just for the returns it can produce. Weekly rentals on Folly Beach, Kiawah, Seabrook Island, and even downtown Charleston garner upwards of $4000 to $7000+. Even with HOA Dues in Wild Dunes, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island + monthly regimes for condos/villas these properties can get easily $30,000 yr for one bedroom to $90k+ for beachfront and 3 bedroom units. 

There has never been a better time to pull money out of the equities market and into real estate, rates are low, and prices are too.

SHORTSALES & FORECLOSURES:

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Ways To Decrease Home’s Insurance Cost Charleston, SC

Charleston SC home insuranceThe factors that determine the cost of your home’s insurance expenses varies greatly as one can imagine. However, here in Charleston SC there are additional concerns that we have to consider like; wind from hurricane’s, flooding from, and the intense heat our summers bring. All these contribute greatly to the longevity and strength of your home’s structural integrity. Age of a home is one of the largest negatives when it comes to the price of house insurance because the older the home the more likely there are defective, outdated, and deficient structural components that are likely more apt to fail or be at greater risk. The design of the house is also a huge consideration to carriers when quoting your policy. When considering buying a home it’s a good idea to look at a newer home (no more than 20 years old) if saving money is something you are concerned with. If your home was built in 2008 or later, make sure you are getting credit from your insurance company for having a home that meets modern building codes. Also, if your home has a hip roof – a pyramid-like roof that slopes on four sides – be sure your insurer is factoring that into your rate, because hip roofs are more hurricane-resistant than gable roofs.The amount of the incentive varies according to risk associated with the geographical location, building materials, and construction methods of each home as well as actuarial data from individual insurance companies. (Discounts apply only to the hurricane-wind portion of your policy; contact your insurance agency for more information.)Considering all this, you may still qualify for a DISCOUNT ON YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. To qualify you must submit an inspection from a state certified wind mitigation inspectorlicensed contractor, building inspector, architect, or engineer, legally validating and identifying the existence of any wind mitigation measures such as below: (Insurance providers will have the form needed to give to one of the experts listed above).

FACTORS THAT DETERMINE COSTS:

  1. Roof ShapeTypical Construction Features that Reduce Wind Damage and Loss
  2. Roof Deck Attachment
  3. Roof Covering
  4. Roof to Wall Connectors
  5. Window Protection
  6. Door Protection
  7. Secondary Water Resistance (barrier)
  8. YEAR BUILT
  9. Updated Electrical system
  10. Secured and improved foundation
  11. Replace with new Roof
  12. Remove large tree limbs hanging in or around home
  13. Type of Windows (quality and impact resistant wind rating)
 * For Flood Insurance – Newer foundation Vents (such as smartvents.com)If you have a hip roofpermanently installed approved shutters for windows and doors or any of the above credits you may qualify for discounts on the wind portion of your insurance policy.The most likely discount for home- owners to overlook is roof tie-downs, generally metal clips or straps attaching the roof structure to walls of the home. Qualifying roof tie-downs can result in an annual premium discount in the low single-digits, but that could add up to real money if you’re owed a retroactive discount.
Info Gathered From: American Property Consultants

Keep in mind that each year it is very likely your insurance premiums will increase and honestly for no other reason than your insurance provider wants to make more money, and feels they can justify the increase because the house is one year older. So it’s a good idea to shop your home’s insurances EVERY year to save money.
Consulting Provided By: Charleston’s best General Contractor

Financing Investment Homes Charleston SC | Investment Properties in Charleston SC Area

INVESTMENT PROPERTIES FINANCING CHARLESTON SC

Prior to the real estate crash that began in 2007 it was hard enough to get good mortgage loans for special real estates sales like: Charleston, SC jumbo loans, mortgages for investment properties, and fractional ownership home loans. Now after the economic and banking crash banks willing to lend money on riskier assets has become all but impossible without giving up your first born. Below are the basics with getting started with financing investment properties in the Charleston, SC area. I  am a local Charleston SC real estate broker with over 13 yrs mortgage experience and once founder/CEO of Mortgage Professionals, LLC wholesale mortgage firm. Please feel free to contact me to discuss your home buying plans in Charleston so we can figure out the best method to achieve your goal. Although I do not write mortgage loans any longer I know and work with the best mortgage lenders in the country and still know what I am doing with regards to how to get financing. Mortgage Loans for second homes is different from that of purchasing homes for investment purposes only. Reserve requirements vary depending on the number of financed properties owned (including primary residence): 1-4 financed properties owned:

  • 2 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s a second home.
  • 6 months reserves on subj. property if it’s an investment property plus 2 months reserves on each other second home or investment property.

5-10 financed properties owned:

  • 2 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s a second home.
  • 6 months of reserves on the subject property if it’s an investment property plus 6 months reserves on each other financed second home or investment property.

Note: Freddie Mac’s guidelines are *currently* 6 months PITI. Other underwriting changes for investment properties include:

  • 70% LTV for purchase of 1-unit and 70% for 2-4 units.
  • 720 minimum low-mid credit score.
  • No history bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past 7 years.
  • Rental income must be documented with two years tax returns.
  • Borrowers required to sign form 4506 (which you can expect on ALL loans these days–including owner occupied).

Don’t forget that there is a significant price hit of 0.75% to fee from Fannie and Freddie with investment properties on top of the credit score/loan to value adds (LLPA). Seller contribution is limited to 2% of the sales price with investment property. Underwriters will be very strict on investment properties in today’s real estate climate so be prepared.

If you are thinking of buying investment property contact me and we can discuss your options before we go house hunting.

Real Estate, Selling Like Hot Cakes Again

According to USAToday.com (2013 The Associated Press),  the number of people who signed contracts to buy U.S. homes jumped in May to the highest level in more than six years, suggesting people are seeking to buy before mortgage rates rise further. The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 6.7% to 112.3 last month. That’s the highest level since December 2006. Signed contracts have risen 12.1% in the past 12 months.Sales of previously occupied homes jumped above the 5 million in May for the first time in 3 ½ years, evidence that the housing recovery is growing steadily.Sales last peaked 5 million in November 2009. During that month and October 2009, a home-buying tax credit briefly inflated the sales pace. Prior to that, sales hadn’t been above 5 million since July 2007. However, before you get too excited and thing we are out of the woods; that’s still below the 5.5 million annual sales that are consistent with a healthy market. New home sales also jumped in May. They rose 2.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000, the fastest pace in five years.

Housing Keeps On the Positive Path

Great news for those looking to sell. The housing market is still showing signs of growing with no signs of stopping anytime in the near future. This is great news for those who are underwater and facing short sale scenarios or foreclosures. As prices continue to increase and demand grows it will be much easier to get those homes off to buyers without having to take a huge hit on a short sale. Home prices rose a record 12.1% in the year ending in April, the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index showed.Charleston SC real Estate SalesAccording to USAToday.com: Nationwide, 9.7 million, or 19.8% of homeowners with a mortgage, owed more on their homes than they were worth as of March, says market researcher CoreLogic. The number of underwater homeowners has dropped below 10 million for the first time in more than at least three years.Rising home prices, up 12.1% in April year-over-year, have lifted 1.7 million home loan borrowers above water in the past year, the data show. As long as home prices continue to rise it will encourage homeowners that have been struggling to put their homes back on the market. “We still have along way to go;” says Charleston, SC realtor, James Schiller. Based on median asking prices per square foot for all non-foreclosure listings on Trulia through May 2013, it found urban home prices up 11.3% year-over-year vs. 10.2% in the suburbs.“As market conditions improve across most of the country, some metros have moved onto the IMI list while marginal seasonal fluctuations have nudged others off of it,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is to be expected as the recovery expands. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the number of improving markets is now more than three times what it was in June 2012.” While the Case-Shiller index measures prices for leading cities, data from real estate website Trulia shows prices rising nearly everywhere in the U.S., but even faster in cities than in the suburbs.Bottom line is things are moving in the right direction and struggling homeowners that have loans over what the house is worth are shrinking. They need to get with their agents to crunch the numbers and see if they can sell on the positive side.

Improvement Continued – Sales Still Rising

As reported by CNBC on Thursday new construction home sales were the best on record since 1963. Sales of new homes rose in April to the second highest level since the summer of 2008 while the median price for a new home hit a record high, further signs that housing is recovering. The median price of a home sold in April was $271,600, the highest level on government records going back to 1993. The April price was 8.3% higher than in March and 13.1 percent higher than a year ago. With the April increase, sales are now 29% higher than a year ago, but sales are still below the 700,000 level considered healthy by economists.How’s this translate for those of us in Charleston, South Carolina? According to USAToday, Sales in the South were up 3% but sales fell 16.7%. Sales of previously owned homes rose in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, the highest level in 3½ years.As the supply of available homes to buy remains tight this trend is likely to continue through the foreseeable future. Applications for permits to build homes rose in April to the highest level in nearly five years. While construction of new homes dipped a little in April, the drop came one month after construction topped 1 million for the first time since June 2008. Several major homebuilders have told of strong annual increases in orders for the first three months of the year, others, said that orders in April jumped 59% from a year earlier.
Some Content Courtesy of USAToday.com

Mortgage Rates on the Rise

USA Today reported that mortgage rates are rising and if you have checked recent mortgage websites you’d see the changes for yourself. WASHINGTON (AP) — The nationwide average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose for the third straight week May 23, hitting their highest levels since mid-March.The Fed has been buying treasuries for over three years now to keep rates   lower  and boost the not only the housing market but also the economy. It’s only reasonable that this can’t continue forever, considering the fiscal problems in Washington. The average on the 15-year loan jumped to 2.77%, up from 2.69% last week. The record low of 2.56% was hit on May 2. Moreover,  as the economy improves investors are more likely to purchase equities versus MBS (mortgage backed securities)  the driver of how the mortgage market trends.As investors, and traders get more comfortable with the economy as a whole their likelihood of staying conservative in treasuries weakens into more aggressive strategies. Thus they pull capital out of MBS and into stocks, and equities resulting in higher mortgage rates.Mortgage rates rose sharply this week because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.The yield rose above 2% Wednesday for the first time since March 14 and was at 2.02% Thursday. Investors began selling government bonds Wednesday after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed several policymakers favored slowing the Fed’s bond purchases, perhaps as early as this summer.