Neighborhood Events


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It’s spring time and there are a lot of exciting things happening in the Tampa Bay area. Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun, an exciting night life, or something to unwind, Tampa has something for everyone. Here are a few upcoming events in the area:
 Bruce Springsteen at the Tampa Bay Times Forum
March 23, 2012 Learn More
 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
March 23-25, 2012 Learn More
 2012 Gasparilla Film Festival
March 29-April 1, 2012 Learn More
 2012 Bay Area Renaissance Festival at Mosi
February 18-April 1, 2012 Learn More


Energy-saving Ideas: Tips to Save Energy and Money at Home


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The typical family spends at least $2000 a year on home utility bills. Unfortunately, a lot of the energy consumed is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. When we waste energy in our homes, we are throwing away money that could be used for other things.
You can make a lot of progress toward improving the energy efficiency in your home by simply plugging the many places through which air can get in or get out. Plugging your home (air sealing) is one of the most important first steps to take when weatherizing your house to increase its energy efficiency.
Below are a few other easy-to-follow steps to help you save energy and money.
Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy:
• Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
• Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
• Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
• Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use—TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
• Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
• Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
• Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
• Air dry clothes.
• Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
• Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
• Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Source: US Department of Energy

Positive signs in the Tampa Real Estate Update


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Recent positive economic news has been motivating more and more people to get into the real estate market. There has been a notable increase in the Tampa real estate activity, such that it now makes more sense than ever to own instead of renting a home.
It is now more cost effective to buy a home instead of rent with the average monthly rent at $1,371 and local median sales price of $129,600. The average monthly payment on a $129,600 home is $1,012 per month, including taxes and insurance. Tampa home affordability is at a record high with reasonably priced homes and record-low mortgage interest rates.
Month over month trends show that the average home sales prices have increased by 6% from January 2012 ($144,152) over January 2011 ($134,856). There is a 4% increase in home sales when comparing the number of homes sales in the 2011 4th quarter (6,679) to the 2010 4th quarter (6,426). Another factor to consider is that the number of months of inventory has dramatically decreased by 40%. The number of months for Tampa inventory for January 2012 was 6.7 months with January 2011 being 11.2 months, with over 60% of the single family homes (not including condos, townhomes, or villas) on the market for 90 days or less.
Don’t delay in making your decision now when home sales are up, prices are rising, and our inventory is decreasing.
Contact me for your real estate needs.
Feel free to begin searching the MLS for your home.
Selective Homes Realty, LLC Joslyn Morales, Realtor Phone: (813) 263-7686
National Association of Realtors, 4th Qtr Market Trends Report
Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, January 2012 Tampa/ St. Petersburg/ Clearwater market trends report.

Buy Your Dream Home Using an FHA 203k Loan


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Over 32% of the homes sold in the Nation in 2011 were bank-owned or short sale properties compared to Tampa, Florida with an over 50% rate.  Housing affordability is at historic high’s, making today the best time to buy a home.

The problem with buying bank-owned or short sale properties is that most homebuyers need to make repairs. Previous owners may have stripped the homes and left it in poor condition.  This in itself makes the home an incredible deal because it is now being sold at a dramatically lower price compared to neighboring homes. However, many aren’t able to take advantage of that opportunity because they cannot afford to make home repairs, they can only afford a down payment.  The FHA 203k Construction and Rehabilitation Loan Program is a solution to this problem.

What is the FHA 203k Construction Rehabilitation Loan Program

The Program is an FHA 30 year fixed rate loan with a repair escrow.  This type of loan can be used to purchase a home or to refinance a loan.  This loan makes it possible for those with low cash available to purchase a home with just a 3.5% down payment amount with up to $292,500 maximum loan amount in Hillsborough County Florida (the maximum loan amount varies per location).  In essence, the program allows the homebuyer to purchase a home as-is while providing the funds to perform all repairs after closing.

Here is where the FHA/203K loan gets real exciting. Eligible repairs are separated into two categories: required repairs and cosmetic repairs.  Required repairs include the roof, electric related items, broken windows or doors, non-functioning plumbing, air conditioning or heating, rotted wood, or any safety related items.  Cosmetic repairs include flooring, appliances, room additions, garages, pool repairs, drive ways, sidewalks, counter tops, kitchens, cabinets, irrigation, and handicap accessibility.  The sky’s the limit!  You can buy an existing home but repair and modify the home as if you were purchasing a brand new construction home. 

When to use the Program

The Program may be used to purchase any residence that the homebuyer can qualify for. 

What is the best use for this Program? Find the worst house in the best neighborhood.  What do I mean by that?  Homes in the best neighborhoods are generally worth much more than most other neighborhoods because they tend to offer better schools, better infrastructure, and lower crime rates, among other things.  So what can a homebuyer do to get into their neighborhood of choice and live in a comfortable home?  Buy a home at the lowest possible price and repair it to make it a comfortable home.  Homes with no air conditioners or missing kitchens and floors are ideal for homebuyers. 

Notice the following example: A family of four finds a home in the neighborhood of their choice selling for $100,000. However, it is a one bedroom/one bath home that is missing the kitchen, floors, and has a non-functioning air conditioner.  They decide to take advantage of the Program and borrow $100,000 to purchase the home and another $180,000 for repairs which include adding two bedrooms and bathrooms, a garage and air conditioner, fixing the roof, adding in the kitchen with appliances of their choice, and flooring of their choice. The trick is to buy a home in your dream neighborhood at a significantly lower price than existing homes in the area.  Once the repairs have been completed, the home will now be worth what comparable homes in the area are worth causing you to have easily walked into a good amount of equity.

How to qualify for the Program?

This loan is available for all borrowers that have a minimum credit score of 620 and no late payments in the last 12 months.  All income, assets and credit must be fully documented with a 2-year minimum history.  The home must be owner-occupied for at least the first year.

Contact me to learn more about how this program can help you get the home of your dreams in the neighborhood of your choice.

Begin searching for your home today here. For more information visit my webpage or you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.  I can also be reached at (813) 402-0543.

Sources: Andy Wood, a HUD Certified 203k Instructor

                National Association of Realtors

                Florida MLS


Down Payment Assistance – A Valuable Resource for Homebuyers


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With current home prices low and mortgage rates at historic lows, many are eager to purchase a home.  However, due to the challenging financial environment with foreclosure rates skyrocketing to historic highs, down-payment requirements for home loans are now at 15 to 20%. It is believed that the more down-payment is invested, the less likely the borrower is to walk away from the loan and avoiding a foreclosure.

The top reason renters say they can’t buy a home is because of a lack of down-payment.  Many potential home-buyers find a 15 to 20% down-payment requirement unattainable. So, how is one to take advantage of the low home prices and mortgage rates to purchase a home? State and local governments are now offering down-payment assistance programs to help borrowers get the down-payment needed to qualify for the home loan.

There are many benefits to qualifying for down-payment assistance. There are programs that offer up to 50% of the sale price in loans with interest rates at 0% to 2% to people with little or no money to put down. If the homebuyer gets the mortgage through the programs’ preferred lender, the mortgage rate may be up to 1% lower than the average mortgage rate.

There is no official list of down-payment assistance programs available but there are many valuable resources available. A great starting point would be to go to the Down Payment Resource web-site to determine what programs you may qualify for by answering a few simple questions.

Mortgage lenders, realtors, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and the local government are a few examples of other resources available to find more information about these programs. Look for programs that offer grants because although they tend to offer less assistance, buyers don’t have to pay the money back. You may also want to consider programs tailored to a professional group such as the Teacher Next Door Program which offers HUD-owned, single family homes to public and private school teachers at a 50% discount.

The following are 3 examples of Florida Down-Payment Assistance Programs available to first time homebuyers or buyers who have not purchased a home in the past 3 years.

1. City of Tampa Mortgage Assistance Program

Benefits: $40,000 maximum first mortgage loan amount with no interest (0%).

Maximum Purchase Price: $258,690.

Income Restrictions: Up to $45,200 for a family of four.

Payback Terms: This is a deferred payment loan requiring no monthly payments as long as the property remains a primary residence. A default will cause the loan to become due and payable.

2. Hillsborough County Florida First

Benefits: Moderate Income Borrowers get up to $5000 to assist with down-payment and closing costs for the second mortgage with a low fixed rate. Low Income Borrowers get up to $7500 for low income borrowers to assist with down-payment and closing costs for the second mortgage.

Maximum Purchase Price: $263,250.

Income Restrictions: Up to $83,160 for a family of 3 or more.

Payback Terms: Moderate Income Borrowers would repay the loan over 10 years. Low Income Borrowers would repay the loan when they sell or refinance the home, or at the end of the term of their first mortgage.

3.Realtors Care Foundation of GTAR Inc.

Benefits: $5000 grant for down-payment assistance and closing costs for first mortgage.

Maximum Purchase Price: $292,500

Income Restrictions: Up to $47,350 for a family of four.

Payback Terms: Does not have to be repaid as long as the homebuyer remains in the home.

Begin searching for your home today here. For more information visit my webpage or you can find me on Twitter and Facebook.


Down Payment Resource