Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

If you’re not behind on your mortgage payments but have been unable to get traditional refinancing because the value of your home has declined, you may be eligible to refinance through MHA’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP is designed to help you get a new, more affordable, more stable mortgage. HARP refinance loans require a loan application and underwriting process, and refinance fees will apply.

+ Eligibility

You may be eligible for HARP if you meet all of the following criteria:

The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.
The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with a good payment history in the past 12 months.

*Eligibility criteria are for guidance only. Contact your mortgage servicer to see if you are eligible for HARP.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Best real estate year since 2008…so far so good!

Our office (thanks Mike!) compiled some stats on the year to date sales transactions over the past few years and 2012 is off to the best start since 2008 from a sales (# of transactions) standpoint. Prices overall are down, from a dollar volume standpoint, but we are beating the national average of price decline. We aren’t quite back to the peak numbers of 2007, but we are getting better each year and selling some excess inventory.

88 sales year to date through April 2012 for a total dollar volume of $27,035,550 – easily our best year since 2008.

Another interesting trend is the number of new listings is slowly decreasing – 104 fewer homes were on the market through April 2012 than this time last year. We’re gaining ground and selling more homes and that is a sign of a healthy real estate market!

Railey Realty continues to be #1 in listing inventory and selection, and #1 in sales in Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake since 1995!

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Vacation Rental – Ski & Glee – New Putt-Putt Golf Course!

One of my clients just added a free putt-putt golf course to his already impressive vacation rental home near Wisp – Ski & Glee. It features an indoor pool, arcade, Xbox Kinect & full movie catalog, an outdoor sauna, horse shoe pit and many more amenities. Book your stay here! Visit Ski & Glee on Facebook here.

 Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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Pending Home Sales Decline in April but Up Strongly From a Year Ago

WASHINGTON (May 30, 2012) – Pending home sales retrenched in April following three consecutive monthly gains, but are notably higher than a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 5.5 percent to 95.5 from a downwardly revised 101.1 in March but is 14.4 percent above April 2011 when it was 83.5. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said a one-month setback in light of many months of gains does not change the fundamentally improving housing market conditions. “Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months. The housing recovery momentum continues,” he said.

Yun notes home sales are staying well above the levels seen from 2008 through 2011. “Housing market activity has clearly broken out at notably higher levels and is on track to see the best performance since 2007,” he said. “All of the major housing market indicators are expected to trend gradually up, but a new federal budget must be passed before the end of the year for the economy to continue to move forward.”

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 0.9 percent to 78.9 in April and is 19.9 percent higher than April 2011. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.3 percent to 93.0 but is 23.0 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 6.8 percent to an index of 105.7 in April but are 13.3 percent higher than April 2011. In the West the index dropped 12.0 percent in April to 94.9 but is 5.1 percent above a year ago.

The housing forecast has been upgraded, with existing-home sales expected to reach 4.66 million this year, compared with 4.26 million in 2011. The outlook for 2013 is now 4.92 million, but could vary significantly depending on two scenarios.
If lending returns to normal, the 2013 outlook for existing-home sales would measurably improve to 5.3 million. However, a fiscal cliff scenario of higher taxes and sharp spending cuts beginning in early 2013, which is an unlikely event but still worth noting, would lower the sales projection to 4.5 million.

Because of measurably lower inventory supplies, the forecast for home prices has been upwardly revised with the median existing-home price projected to rise 2 to 3 percent this year and 4 to 5 percent in 2013, with wide local market variations. Miami and Phoenix will easily achieve double-digit price growth by year end.

Yun said the price gains will measurably reduce the number of underwater homeowners. “For example, a 5 percent national price gain means the number of underwater homeowners would fall to about 9 million from current estimates of around 11 million. A 10 percent gain, say over the next two years, would reduce the underwater status to about 7 million households out of 75 million owner-occupied homes,” he said.

About 25 million homes are owned free and clear without a mortgage.

Though the proportion of distressed properties is still high, the numbers have been falling over the past two years. “The diminishing share of distressed properties is another reason for higher home prices in upcoming months,” Yun added.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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All Commercial Real Estate Sectors Continue to Improve, Multifamily Strong

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2012) – Shaking off a prolonged impact from the recession, fundamentals are gradually improving in all of the major commercial real estate sectors, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast. The apartment rental sector has fully recovered and is growing.

The findings also are confirmed in NAR’s recent quarterly Commercial Real Estate Market Survey, which collects data from members about market activity.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said new jobs are the key. “Ongoing job creation, which is at a higher level this year, is fueling an underlying demand for commercial real estate space, assisted by a steady increase in consumer spending,” he said. “The pattern shows gradually declining commercial vacancy rates, with consequential but generally modest rent growth.”

Yun expects the economy to add 2 to 2.5 million jobs both this year and in 2013, on the heels of 1.7 million new jobs in 2011, assuming a new federal budget is passed before the end of the year. “Although we need even stronger job growth, by far the greatest impact of job creation is in multifamily housing, where newly formed households striking out on their own have increased demand for apartment rentals – this is the sector with the lowest vacancy rates and strongest rent growth, which is attracting many investors.”

Rising apartment rents also are having a positive impact on home sales because many long-time renters now view homeownership as a better long-term option, Yun noted.

A large problem remains for purchases of commercial property priced under $2.5 million. “Our recent commercial lending survey shows that there is very little capital available for small business, which is significantly impacting commercial real estate transactions, although funding is less restrictive for bigger properties.”

NAR’s latest Commercial Real Estate Outlook1 offers projections for four major commercial sectors and analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic data for metro areas were provided by REIS, Inc.,2 a source of commercial real estate performance information.

Office Markets
Vacancy rates in the office sector are projected to fall from 16.3 percent in the second quarter of this year to 16.0 percent in the second quarter of 2013.

The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates presently are Washington, D.C., with a vacancy rate of 9.3 percent; New York City, at 10.0 percent; and New Orleans, 12.6 percent.

Office rents should increase 2.0 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2013. Net absorption of office space in the U.S., which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is forecast at 24.7 million square feet in 2012 and 48.0 million next year.

Industrial Markets
Industrial vacancy rates are likely to decline from 11.0 percent in the current quarter to 10.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013.

The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Orange County, Calif., with a vacancy rate of 4.7 percent; Los Angeles, 5.0 percent; and Miami at 7.2 percent.

Annual industrial rent is expected to rise 1.6 percent in 2012 and 2.4 percent next year. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is seen at 44.1 million square feet this year and 62.4 million in 2013.

Retail Markets
Retail vacancy rates are forecast to decline from 11.3 percent in the second quarter to 10.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013.

Presently, markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates include San Francisco, 3.7 percent; Fairfield County, Conn., at 4.0 percent; and Long Island, N.Y., at 5.0 percent.

Average retail rent should rise 0.8 percent this year and 1.3 percent in 2013. Net absorption of retail space is projected at 8.0 million square feet this year and 21.9 million in 2013.

Multifamily Markets
The apartment rental market – multifamily housing – is likely to see vacancy rates drop from 4.5 percent in the second quarter to 4.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013; apartment vacancy rates below 5 percent generally are considered a landlord’s market with demand justifying higher rents.
Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are New York City, 2.1 percent; Portland, Ore., at 2.3 percent; and Minneapolis at 2.4 percent.

After rising 2.2 percent last year, average apartment rent is expected to increase 4.0 percent in 2012 and another 4.1 percent next year. “Such a rent increase will raise the core consumer inflation rate. The Federal Reserve, in turn, may be forced to raise interest rates, possibly as early as late 2013.”

Multifamily net absorption is forecast at 215,900 units this year and 230,300 in 2013.

The Commercial Real Estate Outlook is published by the NAR Research Division for the commercial community. NAR’s Commercial Division, formed in 1990, provides targeted products and services to meet the needs of the commercial market and constituency within NAR.

The NAR commercial components include commercial members; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; commercial real estate boards and structures; and the NAR commercial affiliate organizations – CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.

Approximately 78,000 NAR and institute affiliate members specialize in commercial brokerage and related services, and an additional 232,000 members offer commercial real estate services as a secondary business.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free
Search real estate for sale at Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County

April Existing-Home Sales Up, Prices Rise Again

WASHINGTON (May 22, 2012) – Existing-home sales rose in April and remain above a year ago, while home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The improvements in sales and prices were broad based across all regions.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March, and are 10.0 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway. “It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices,” he said. “The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers’ market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller’s market.”

Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 9.5 percent to 2.54 million existing homes available for sale, a seasonal increase which represents a 6.6-month supply2 at the current sales pace, up from a 6.2-month supply in March. Listed inventory is 20.6 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply; the record for unsold inventory was 4.04 million in July 2007.

“A diminishing share of foreclosed property sales is helping home values. Moreover, an acute shortage of inventory in certain markets is leading to multiple biddings and escalating price conditions,” Yun said. He notes some areas with tight supply include the Washington, D.C., area; Miami; Naples, Fla.; North Dakota; Phoenix; Orange County, Calif.; and Seattle. “We expect stronger price increases in most of these areas.”

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types jumped 10.1 percent to $177,400 in April from a year ago; the March price showed an upwardly revised 3.1 percent annual improvement. “This is the first time we’ve had back-to-back price increases from a year earlier since June and July of 2010 when the gains were less than one percent,” Yun said. “For the year we’re looking for a modest overall price gain of 1.0 to 2.0 percent, with stronger improvement in 2013.”

Distressed homes4 – foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 28 percent of April sales (17 percent were foreclosures and 11 percent were short sales), down from 29 percent in March and 37 percent in April 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 21 percent below market value in April, while short sales were discounted 14 percent.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, said home buyers should look into financing in the early stages of their search process. “With the tight lending environment it’s a good idea to consult with a Realtor® about mortgages and program options in your area, and tips for boosting your credit score well in advance of making an offer on a home,” he said. “It helps to go into the process knowing what it takes to succeed.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.91 percent in April from 3.95 percent in March; the rate was 4.84 percent in April 2011. Last week the 30-year fixed rate dropped to a record weekly low of 3.79 percent; record keeping began in 1971.

First-time buyers rose to 35 percent of purchasers in April from 33 percent in March; they were 36 percent in April 2011.

All-cash sales fell to 29 percent of transactions in April from 32 percent in March; they were 31 percent in April 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 20 percent of homes in April, compared with 21 percent in March and 20 percent in April 2011.

Single-family home sales rose 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.09 million in April from 3.97 million in March, and are 9.9 percent higher than the 3.72 million-unit pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $178,000 in April, up 10.4 percent from April 2011.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 6.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 in April from 500,000 in March, and are 10.4 percent above the 480,000-unit level in April 2011. The median existing condo price was $172,900 in April, which is 8.1 percent above a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 5.1 percent to an annual level of 620,000 in April and are 19.2 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $256,600, up 8.8 percent from April 2011.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 1.0 percent in April to a pace of 1.03 million and are 14.4 percent above April 2011. The median price in the Midwest was $141,400, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 3.5 percent to an annual level of 1.79 million in April and are 6.5 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $153,400, up 8.0 percent from April 2011.

Existing-home sales in the West increased 4.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.18 million in April and are 7.3 percent above April 2011. The median price in the West was $221,700, a surge of 15.9 percent from a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free
Search real estate for sale at Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County

How long will you be underwater?

Timeline to reach desired equity position depends on 3 factors

By Jack Guttentag
Inman News®

About 16 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, which means they are “underwater.” So long as that condition continues, they have no equity that can be used to help finance the purchase of another house.

On the contrary, they can’t sell the house without digging into their pockets to pay the difference between what they owe and what they can realize from the sale net of expenses.

But time heals most wounds, and negative equity is no exception. The principal component of the monthly mortgage payment reduces the loan balance by the same amount.

Refinancing into a mortgage carrying a lower interest rate reduces the interest portion of the monthly mortgage payment, thereby increasing the principal component and the rate at which the balance is paid down.

Although underwater borrowers generally can’t qualify for a refinance, those fortunate enough to have their mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac comprise an important exception. The government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) permits negative equity, though borrowers must be in good standing to be eligible.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free

PlanMaryland workshops set in region

For the Cumberland Times-News Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — People who are interested in PlanMaryland are invited to two workshops to discuss incorporating the economic development interests of Western Maryland into the first state development plan.

The Sustainable Transformation of the Appalachian Region Project, in partnership with The Greater Cumberland Committee, the National Center for Smart Growth and the University of Maryland Extension, will host the workshops.

The first workshop is scheduled for Thursday at the Will O’ The Wisp Restaurant in McHenry; the second workshop will be held June 4 at the Cumberland Country Club. Both workshops will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with lunch provided.

Gerrit Knapp, University of Maryland Extension, and Jason Sartori, Integrated Planning Consultants, will serve as facilitators.

Through funding made possible by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the primary objective of the STAR project team is to prepare a primer for economic development planning for Western Maryland.

The workshops are sponsored with no charge to the general public by TGCC, University of Maryland Extension, Garrett County Department of Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce, and the Western Maryland Health System.

Reservations should be made by Wednesday by contacting Juli McCoy at 301-722-0090 or jmccoy@greatercc.org.

The STAR website, http://smartgrowth.umd.edu/starproject.html, contains data that will help facilitate workshop discussions.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free
Search real estate for sale at Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County

Pet oxygen masks donated to Oakland VFD

May 27, 2012
Pet oxygen masks donated to Oakland VFD

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

— OAKLAND — Resident Michael McGuire recently donated two pet oxygen mask kits to the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department. McGuire, who works in anesthesia, donated the masks after seeing a photo in the newspaper of a firefighter resuscitating a dog with an oxygen mask made for a person.

“I have a lot of cats and dogs and realized the fire department didn’t have the right equipment,” said McGuire. “It’s very important to have a pet mask to ventilate a dog or cat. Because of the shape of their nose and mouth, they have a cone-shaped mask.”

McGuire purchased his mask from Wag’N Enterprises because he liked the fact that the masks came with special storage bags and decals.

“The decals make it easy for firefighters to determine which fire truck has the pet masks,” said McGuire.

In the future, McGuire plans on donating a mask to the Garrett County Sheriff’s Office for its K-9 unit, in case they ever get injured in the line of duty.

Pet oxygen masks are specially designed to fit the snouts of different sized animals as small as a ferret to as large as a foal. The masks are sold by Wag’N Enterprises through the O2 Fur Life initiative (www.wagnpetsafety.com), which has the goal of ensuring all first-responders in North America carry them. So far, Wag’N has placed masks in more than 1,200 departments in the U.S. and Canada. In 2010, the Regional Education Service Agency 8 purchased 22 pet masks for Mineral, Grant, Hampshire and Hardy and other numerous counties in West Virginia, according to a Wag’N 02 Fur Life list of supporters.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free
Search real estate for sale at Deep Creek Lake & Garrett County

Oakland Receives Major Grant For Water Project

May. 24, 2012

The Maryland Board of Public Works yesterday approved more than $1.4 million in grants to improve water supply systems and protect drinking water, with half of the funds being awarded to the town of Oakland.

Grants of $785,433 from the Water Supply Financial Assistance Program were awarded to Oakland.


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The money will help fund study, design, and construction to modify the town’s Broadford Lake and Bradley Run water treatment plants to lower the concentration of disinfection by-products and improve the quality of its drinking water.

The board is composed of Governor Martin O’Malley, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

“Everyone deserves to have an adequate supply of safe drinking water. Nothing is more important to our public health,” said Governor O’Malley. “These projects protect public health while creating jobs for more Marylanders.”

More here.

Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

877-563-5350 – toll free