There is hope for the future in current market! The interest rates are at historic lows, there are loans available for you to purchase housing at low prices due to the Short Sale and foreclosure boom. These priced houses are reducing the Market value of current housing like it or not. This is the best time to Buy! A Buyers Market means that Supply is up Prices and interest rates are down. Check your Credit rating and get it cleaned up, pay off whatever is there. If you need help I have an experienced team of professionals to assist you through the entire process, all you need to do is call for help! Credit Scores are important to get the best rates and to Qualify for a good loan program.


Last week, the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) announced that the First-Time Buyers Tax Credit can now be used for a down payment on an FHA loan.  This is really great news for first-time buyers!  First-time home buyers can now add the $8,000 (max) tax credit to their down payment and/or their closing costs.

FHA mortgage loans require a 3.5% – 5% down payment.  The tax credit may not be used in place of the required down payment for your FHA loan but it can supplement it, which may result in a slightly lower mortgage payment.

All mortgage loans have closing costs.  The closing costs for an FHA mortgage loan is about 3% of the sales price.  You can apply the tax credit, 10% of the sales price, to your closing cost.  The tax credit can be applied to the upfront mortgage-insurance premium (MIP), which is 1.75% of the sales price.

Here is an example of what this means to you in dollars without the tax credit:

Sale Price: $125,000
5% Down: $6,250
Closing Costs: $3,750
MIP: $2,187
Total Funds Needed: $12,187
Loan Amount: $118,750
Mortgage Payment: $745.81

Here is an example of what this means to you in dollars with the tax credit:

Sale Price: $125,000
5% Down: $6,250
Additional Down: $2,063 (paid by tax credit)
Closing Costs: $3,750 (paid by tax credit)
MIP: $2,187 (paid by tax credit)
Total Funds Needed: $6,563
Loan Amount: $116,687
Mortgage Payment: $734.73

FHA mortgage loans will allow funds to be gifted to the buyer by certain government entities, by employers and by parents.  The gifted funds can be used as part of the required down payment.  Interest rates are hovering just under 5% at this time.  However, interest rates have been increasing slightly over the past few weeks.  If you are a first-time buyer or have not owned a home within the last three years, now is the perfect opportunity to buy a home with less money out of your pocket.  This is especially true when you choose a home from the many available in West Virgina’s beautiful counties of Jefferson, Berkely, Morgan or Hampshire.  But remember, the tax credit expires in a few months (November 30, 2009).  Escrow must close before the November deadline.

Tommy Underwood, your West Virginia real estate expert

The Treasury Department began implimenting programs last month that they are hoping will bring help and hope to Jefferson County distressed homeowners.  The Making Home Affordable program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This program offers two options for homeowners.  The loan modification program is primarily aimed at helping distressed homeowners who are falling behind on their payments.  The refinancing program is primarily aimed at homeowners who foresee problems making their mortgage payments in the future.  The refinance program will allow homeowners to refinance their home at today’s low interest rates.  The refinance program only applies to homes which are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  However, the FHA Hope For Homeowners loan modification program has been expanded.
Jefferson County home values have been impacted by the number of foreclosed homes on the market.  The Make Home Affordable programs were implemented to slow and reverse this trend.  Homeowners who have seen a decline in their home’s value may still apply for either a loan modification or a home refinance.
FHA Hope For Homeowners and Making Home Affordable loan modifications and Making Home Affordable refinancing programs all have guidelines which must be met by the homeowner.  There are free websites that offer online tools to help you determine your eligibility.  Avoid scam artists who charge for their services.  Whether your home loan is FHA insured, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned, you can use the online tools offered at Making Home Affordable website.  This website offers questionnaires and calculators to help distressed homeowners determine their eligibility and what their payment reductions may be as well.
The government is offering hope for distressed homeowners in Jefferson County and the nation.  Please take advantage of these free websites, even if you have had a reduction in your income or in your home’s value. 
Tommy Underwood, Harper Valley Real Estate

It's fire season in West Virginia.Spring fire season officially began yesterday in West Virginia.  Fire restrictions will be in effect until May 31st.  Outdoor burning is prohibited between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.  If you are planning to do any outdoor burning, remember to include a 10 foot safety strip around the fire area.  The 10 foot strip is required by law.  In addition, all fires must be attended to until they have been completely extinguished.  Anyone who violates the fire restrictions will suffer a $300 fine.
Take care with any outdoor burning, not only to protect our beautiful open space but to protect yourself from financial obligation as well.  Anyone conducting an outdoor burn which results in a fire will be held financially responsible for any property damage and the cost of fighting the fire.  In addition, any property damage and the cost of fighting a fire caused by an outdoor burn will be paid by the person who caused the fire.
Be careful out there!

How the economic stimulus package helps homeowners and first time homebuyers.As part of the new $789 billion economic stimulus plan, first time homebuyers will receive an $8000 tax credit when they purchase a home, an increase over last year’s $7500 repayable tax credit.  This new non-repayable tax credit is expected to increase home sales by 500,000 units in 2009 alone, according to the National Association of Realtors.  The previous repayable credit was only good until June 30th.  The new, higher, non-repayable tax credit has been extended to September 1st, 2009.  With more money in the homebuyers’ pockets, the $8000 tax credit is expected to generate as much as $62,000 of additional economic activity per house.  This extra generated revenue comes from real estate commissions, moving expenses, new furniture and appliance purchases and remodels.  This will put extra money into the economy, helping buoy local businesses.

In addition to the $8000 non-repayable tax credit, the stimulus package has other incentives for homeowners.  All previous energy-related tax credits have been extended through 2010.  This includes purchasing and installing energy-efficient appliances, windows, doors, heating and air conditioning units and even insulation.  The economic package has also allotted $2 billion to buy up foreclosures and other vacant homes, renovate them and either sell or rent them to help those neighborhoods across the country that have been the hardest hit by the record foreclosures in the recent past.  If you have any questions on how this will effect Jefferson County real estate, please call me at my office (540-665-6570), via cell (304-279-1046) or email me at tommyunderwood@topproducer.com.

Jefferson County scouts help fill local food pantry.Through the combined efforts of local Jefferson County Cub and Boy Scouts, more than 15,000 lbs of food were offered to the food pantry run by the Jefferson County Community Ministries in 2008.  One weekend a year, scouts go out in their neighborhoods and ask for donations to this great cause.  Some scout troops, like Pack 95 with the Mannahoac District of the Shenandoah Area Council, donated 165 pounds of food bought from money they raised through a popcorn sale earlier in the year, even though they only have 13 scouts in their pack.  This is just one of the ways that scout leaders try to instill a sense of responsibility for giving back to their community at a young age.  And the food pantry is happy to have the help.  With many people losing their jobs, the Jefferson County Community Ministries finds that more and more people are coming every week to receive food from the pantry.  The donations given to the pantry from the scouts every year helps alleviate the stress on the pantry to provide food for its patrons.  In fact, last year alone, over 8700 people were fed with the food donated to Jefferson County Community Ministries’ food pantry.  If you would like to donate to the Ministries’ food pantry, please call 304-725-3186.

Last week it was announced that, through the incredible outpouring of support from the local Jefferson County community, the United Way of Jefferson County has reached its annual fundraising goal of $440,000.  This means that 21 Jefferson County chartitable organizations will be receiving the assistance they need from United Way to help fund programs for food, clothing and youth programs in the area.  This amazing feat was accomplished through the help of donations, volunteers and fundraising efforts of members of the United Way’s Board of Directors.  Even though the Ohio Valley has been hit with tough economic times like the rest of the country and many people are in dire need of assistance, the support United Way has experienced from the people of Jefferson County show the extent of the strong spirit of compassion that flows through their veins.  We should all be proud.