Less than 2.5 percent of home loans are in foreclosure, which may lead banks to be more aggressive.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 1:23 PM

© Andy Dean / AlamyBy Brian O'Connell, TheStreet.com

 

The mortgage delinquency rate has decreased for the sixth consecutive quarter and is at 6.04 percent of all residential mortgage loans through the second quarter of 2014, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

 

In addition, the percentage of loans in foreclosure during the second quarter stood at 2.49 percent, down from both the first quarter of 2014 and for all of last year. It's also the lowest percentage rate since the first quarter of 2008 and stands as a significant sign the residential real estate market is healthy and vibrant again. That could lead to more aggressive lending from banks and mortgage companies.

 

When trying to get a home loan, you're focused on looking like a safe bet for prospective lenders. Some things, however, won't affect your mortgage.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 10:40 AM

© Alex Raths/Getty ImagesBy Chris Birk, Credit.com

 

When you're hoping to lock down a home loan, the focus is on making sure you look like a safe bet for prospective lenders.

 

Conversation tends to drift to the key pieces of the pre-approval puzzle, from credit score and stable income to acceptable debt levels and suitable assets. No one's arguing the wisdom there. But what often gets glossed over, if not entirely forgotten, are the things lenders won't or even can't factor into their decision.

 

Some of those nonfactors help protect homebuyers and maintain a level playing field. Others might push a home loan out of reach for certain borrowers.

 
Tags: loans

Although high home prices may push down sales to first-time homebuyers, their share of mortgages is still near historical highs.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 10:26 AM

© Mike Francis Kopala/Westend6By Nick Timiraos and Matt Stiles, The Wall Street Journal

 

First-time buyers aren't playing as big a role in the housing market as they did a few years ago, when lower prices and a big tax credit lured them to the market.

 

But when it comes to homes financed by conventional or government-backed loans, first-time buyers still account for a historically high share of purchases, according to a new paper from researchers at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

 

The FHFA, which regulates mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, examined loans that were either sold to those companies or insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a government agency that has traditionally played a large role serving first-time buyers. These entities have backed more than 80 percent of all loans made since 2009. Before the housing bubble swelled in 2003, they guaranteed around two-thirds of all loans, but during the bubble their market share fell to around half of the market.

 

The index of builder confidence has hit its highest level in seven months.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 7:01 AM

© CorbisBy Jonathan House, The Wall Street Journal

 

Home builders grew more optimistic in August as an improving job market and falling mortgage rates boosted the outlook for home sales.

 

An index of builder confidence in the market for single-family homes rose two points to 55 this month, the National Association of Home Builders said Monday. It was the gauge's second consecutive month over 50, a level that indicates more builders generally see conditions as good than bad.

 

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an August reading of 53.

The rise in the NAHB's broad gauge of confidence reflected gains in all three of its components. Its measures of current sales conditions and expectations for future sales each rose two points to 58 and 65, respectively. The measure of prospective-buyer traffic increased three points to 42.

 

Esteemed gardeners are revisiting the flower best known as gas-station landscaping — and revealing its long-obscured charms.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 11:17 AM

Francois De Heel/Getty ImagesBy Cynthia Kling, The Wall Street Journal

 

Not even good taste, it might seem, can rescue certain tools for the sophisticated gardener. Plastic pots. Impatiens. Perhaps, above all, the lowly marigold.

 

It can appear fake — splashy and eager to please, with nothing to say — until you get a snoot full of its garbagey spice smell. Certainly anyone who studied garden design in the last 50 years learned to avoid the marigold like the plague. It was considered too easy to grow, too common. Something to stick in a gas-station island in a mindless effort to enhance curb appeal.

 

Well, not so fast.

 
Tags: gardening

Want to take advantage of low rates? These tips can ensure you're prepared.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 9:59 AM

alexskopje/Getty ImagesBy Richard Barrington, ShopRate

 

You can't control mortgage rates.

 

That simple fact can give refinancing something of a lottery feel -- some mortgage borrowers are lucky enough to get the opportunity to refinance, while others are stuck with the same rate for the entire life of their mortgages.

 

Still, while there is an element of luck in the movement of refinance rates, there is also some degree of planning that determines who can refinance. This is because the movement of refinance rates is just one factor that determines whether you will get a chance to refinance. There are a number of other things that have to line up, as well.

 
Tags: loans

Rental-property owners in these cities may see the largest short-term gains.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:38 AM

© Wes Thompson/CorbisBy Alexa Fiander, Zillow

 

If you need to move, have you ever considered not selling your home and becoming a landlord instead? Before you take the leap, check out Zillow’s latest rental report naming the top 10 cities where mom-and-pop landlords make the most money from their rental properties. Mom-and-pop landlords are homeowners who have turned their personal home into a rental rather than selling it when they move.

 

According to Zillow, rental-property owners in Oklahoma City have the biggest short-term financial gains, with profits — the difference between the monthly rent and mortgage payments — expected around $536 monthly, or $6,431 annually. Miami; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Cincinnati; and Denver round out the top five metros, all with monthly short-term profits above $300.

 

The volume of homes priced over $1 million has increased 8.5 percent from 2013, the National Association of Realtors says.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:06 AM

© Teila K. Day Photography, AlamyBy Diana Olick, CNBC

 

Despite a lull in the overall housing recovery, high-end homes are seeing a strong sales surge. Whether fueled by foreign buyers or cash-heavy, investment-hungry Americans, multimillion-dollar homes are seeing the biggest annual sales jump of any other housing segment.

 

Homes priced above $1 million represented just 2.5 percent of overall sales in July, according to the National Association of Realtors, but their volume jumped 8.5 percent from a year ago. Sales of the lowest-end homes fell by just as much. While the ultra-rich have always had a soft spot for real estate, their love affair is only heating up now.

 
 

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