Here's a look at assistance programs available to homebuyers and where to find them.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 9:10 AM

© Getty ImagesBy Polyana da Costa,


The days of easy credit are gone, but homebuyers can still get mortgages with little to no money down if they know where to look.


From down-payment assistance grants to interest-free second mortgages and other special mortgage programs, there is a growing number of options for people who want to buy a home without a down payment. But these are not the no-questions-asked type of loans that buyers found during the housing boom, says Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource, which provides information about down payment programs across the country.


If you're putting your house up for sale, try some of these trendy colors on the walls.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:50 AM

HomeAdvisorBy Andrea Davis, HomeAdvisor


Is it time to add some fresh splash of paint to the house interior? Do you plan to sell the house this year or in the near future?


If you want to be up on the popular trends in house-painting, then be sure to consider painting rooms according to this year's trends in colors.


Some of the top trends in interior painting include these five tones.


Facts about fancy features and a touch of drama can help. Some 'puffing' is good, but don't go overboard.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:23 AM

© Stockbroker/SuperStockBy Sanette Tanaka, The Wall Street Journal


It's not what real estate agents say, it's the way they say it.


Home listings that tout property characteristics, such as granite countertops and wood-burning fireplaces, in the description sell for a premium, says Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., who studied the makeup of listings.


"The more verifiable information, the better," he says. Each property characteristic mentioned in a listing increases the sale price by just under 1 percent and its probability of selling by 9.2 percent, on average. That means a listing with 15 additional property characteristics sells for roughly a 13.5 percent price premium. Waller excluded standard features, such as bedrooms, from the analysis.


Tags: selling

If you're veering from the traditional home loan, here are some of your options.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:21 AM

Image: Miniature home on sheet of percent signs © Comstock, Getty ImagesBy Geoff Williams, U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World ReportIf you're buying a house, chances are you'll take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. It's the most popular home financing option, according to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entity that works to help homeowners get mortgages. In the last couple of years, those who took out home loans overwhelmingly chose the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage: It accounted for 85 percent of the home-purchase loan market in 2012, according to Freddie Mac, and 90 percent in the first half of 2013.


Even if you're planning to go this traditional route, it's nice to know what you could do instead. Here are some alternatives to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.


The FHA Back to Work Program allows a buyer to purchase a home 12 months after a foreclosure, short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Can you qualify?

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 12:19 PM

Image: Home with foreclosure sign in front yard © Ariel Skelley/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesBy Scott Sheldon,


Credit.comA consumer who sold his or her home in a short sale or lost it in a foreclosure would normally have to wait 36 months to purchase a primary residence again with an FHA fixed-rate mortgage. However, the FHA Back to Work Program allows a buyer to purchase a primary home just 12 months after a foreclosure, short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure.


The program -- which was announced in 2013, and extended through Sept. 30, 2016 -- aims to fulfill a lofty goal: offering families a second chance at homeownership. The sticking point, however, is that you’ll need to specifically document the financial problems that caused you to forfeit your prior home in order to qualify.


The 'shadow inventory' dropped 35 percent in the past year.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 12:15 PM

© Ariel Skelley/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesBy Jeff Brown,


How healthy is the housing market? Data on prices and sales show a pretty nice recovery, but the standout stat is foreclosures: The "foreclosure inventory" dropped by 35 percent in the 12 months ended in February.


That's the number of homes in the foreclosure process or likely to be because homeowners are seriously behind in their payments. Because homes in or near foreclosure typically sell at a deep discount, a large foreclosure inventory, including a "shadow inventory" of homes that could tumble onto the market, puts damper on sales, which can hurt prices. So a reduction in the number of troubled homes is a force for the good.


Despite the week-to-week decrease, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan is still higher than in 2013.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 6:51 AM

© Comstock, Getty ImagesBy Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch


The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.34 percent in the week that ended April 10 from 4.41 percent in the prior week, according to a Thursday report from federally controlled mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac.


A year ago, the 30-year rate was at 3.43 percent.


"Mortgage rates eased a bit following the decline in 10-year Treasury yields," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist.

Tags: loans

The price per square foot now exceeds $1,000 for new units in San Francisco, according to a new report.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 9:21 AM

(© Jean-Yves Bruel/Getty Images)By Conor Dougherty, The Wall Street Journal


Downtown condominium prices continue to skyrocket in West Coast cities, as the booming tech industry and interest from foreign buyers sends condo prices skyward and leaving little left to buy.


Few markets are more frenzied than San Francisco, where new condominium prices are now over $1,000 per square foot, according to The Mark Co., a marketing and sales firm in San Francisco.






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