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Good News! Congress Has Extended the “Stay” for USDA

usda photoBenita Grotto Glenn of Prime Lending in Pensacola, Florida contacted me to share some great news this morning!Benita Grotto Glenn

UPDATE – Congress has passed temporary Continued Resolution meaning that changes to USDA Rural Housing eligible areas has been delayed until mid December.

What is a USDA Loan?

A USDA Loan is a home loan insured by the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA Loans offer affordable 30 year terms on real estate with 100% financing. That means no money down!

Are you eligible for a USDA Loan for the real estate you are interested in building or buying?

If your credit score meets the minimum requirements, the home being purchased is located in a USDA eligible area and the household income meets the requirements, chances are you are eligible for a USDA Loan.

What does this mean for Prime Lending and USDA Rural Housing?

Glenn said, USDA Rural Housing will continue to issue Conditional Commitments for loan transactions located in possible affected areas that are subject to change.

Because Congress passed Continued Resolution until mid-December the USDA property eligibility changes have been “delayed” until that time.  “As for the conditional commitments between now and then, they will be honored,” she said.  “We are anticipating that USDA Rural Housing will release further direction regarding exact dates and requirements for USDA Rural Housing property eligibility on or before mid-December,” Glenn said.

She said, “Prime Lending at this time does not have a required date of when Conditional Commitments must be received.  In other words it is ‘business as usual’ for USDA transactions, until further information is provided.”

The market has been improving and interest rates are still lower than 5%.Local builders, such as Timberland Contractors, LLC, D.R, Horton, Adams Homes, Celebrity Home Builders, LLC and Thomas Homes Corporation are continuing to build real estate throughout Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties.

If you have any USDA Loan questions, please contact me, Lisa Burns, Broker Pensacola Real Estate Professionals, at 850-393-7106, and I will be happy to assist you.

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From Grand Staircases to Snail Showers: Home Decor Through the Decades

Pre-1900 Grand StaircasesReal Estate decor has run the gamete from the Pre-1900’s to the 2000’s, according to

In the Pre-1900’s or during the “Gilded Age” of J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, affluent homes often boasted stunning grand staircases, double-wide pocket doors that slid into the walls, bay windows and coffered ceilings.

By the 1900’s, Tin Ceilings were a common feature, as they were inexpensive, fireproof and durable.

The 1910’s saw the emergence of built-in buffets, China cabinets, leaded glass windows and claw-foot tubs in the bathrooms. There were less frills, as people opted for cleaner and simpler lines. This decade gave rise to the Craftsman Style with gently pitched roofs, deep overhanging eaves, square columns and generous front porches.

As bootleg booze and sky rocketing stocks fueled the Jazz Age of the 1920’s, an era of conspicuous consumption ensued. The best residential architecture incorporated luxury touches like French doors and windows. Coffered ceilings, crown molding, arched doorways and plenty of glitz and glam were signs of the time.1920s example home with French Windows

The 1940’s saw post-war builders embracing many modern techniques, designs and materials, some first used for commercial purposes. Glass block walls, which were  first used in factories, had the advantage of letting in natural light. Clean lines and surfaces marked the best treatments of the decade.

Carports were a  hit and a common housing feature during the 1950’s. They offered the advantage of a full garage, but with a much lower cost. Other distinct characteristics of the time included: screened-in porches, eat-in kitchens, window seats and skylights.

1960s Terrazzo FloorsTimes were a changing in the 1960’s, and homes oft times had such distinctive features as terrazzo floors, which were a composite floor of marble, granite or other stone chips laid in cement and polished to a high shine. Attractive and practical, this flooring was in keeping with the clean modern designs of the day. Other common features included parquet floors, bow windows and chain link fences.

The 1970’s saw the rise of disposable income, when families began building vacation homes. The A-Frame Style was the go to design of the day. People often elected this style because  of its simplistic design and low cost. Eat-in kitchens, sliding glass doors and wraparound decks were other common attributes.

A home design feature not seen prior to the 2000’s, is something known as the snail shower. As its name suggests, it is a shower with an s-curve with the shower head at the end of the curl to avoid water splashing out of this open design. 2000s Snail ShowersBecause these showers take up more room, they are typically seen in larger, luxury homes. “McMansions” dot the landscape of this decade. Media rooms, Florida rooms, rich hardwood floors, dazzling granite tile floors, gourmet kitchens and recreational rooms are commonly seen attributes.

If you have a picture in your mind of Real Estate from any of these decades that you would like to build or find, feel free to contact me here or call me, and I will be happy to help.

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Home Sales Rise in Pensacola Bay Area by 36 Percent

According to data released by the Pensacola Association of Realtor’s on September 11, 2013, sales of single family homes last month in the Pensacola Bay area jumped 36 percent! This is great news for the real estate market! The pendulum seems to be swinging back to the positive.

Data tallies show that total sales reached 602 compared to 442 homes sold in August, 2012. Timberland Contractors, LLC enjoyed a flurry of activity this past month with 6 new building contracts signed and begun! The sounds of busy hammers, nail guns and saws can be heard in neighborhoods, such as Cottonwood (pictured below), Covington Woods and Plantation Woods.

Timberland Contractors, LLC. and DR Horton are busy building Executive Homes in this prestigious neighborhood.

Timberland Contractors, LLC. and DR Horton are busy building Executive Homes in this prestigious neighborhood.

In addition to the spike in the number of homes sold, prices rose almost 7 percent in August of this year. It is an advantageous time to build, buy or sell a home.

According to Zillow’s Mortgage Rate Ticker, 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Have Fallen for the First Time in Five Weeks; The Current Rate is 4.37%.

The average home price sold in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties last month was $176,734.

The number of days a home for sale remained on the market also dipped to 113 from 133 days in 2012.

The only negative in the Association’s report was a slight increase in the total inventory of unsold homes.

That number edged up from 3,388 last year to 3,420 in August of 2013. However, as people relocate to Pensacola, Florida these numbers are likely to change. An influx of military families and retirees happens with regularity in Pensacola. Young families are also choosing to plant roots in our lovely city.

If you have any questions about any of these neighborhoods, please contact me here or feel free to call me, and I will be happy to answer any real estate questions you may have.

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Invaluable New Consumer Real Estate WebSite

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) launched HouseLogic, a new consumer real estate website designed to help consumers with all aspects of homeownership. According to NAR, “HouseLogic was created to help homeowners make smart decisions and take responsible actions to maintain, protect and increase the value of their homes.”

Houselogic is a free website. It is designed to help consumers make smart, informed home improvement investment decisions.  It provides timely articles and news that helps homeowners plan and organize their home projects. It also provides  home improvement advice and how-to’s along with information about taxes, home finances and insurance.

Here’s a sampling of articles I saw on my first visit to this real estate site:

7 Tips for Saving Energy in the Laundry Room
7 Tips for Saving Energy with Home Lighting
Start a Neighborhood Watch
Stop Drivers From Speeding in Your Neighborhood
7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling
Smart Options: Kitchen Flooring
Green Kitchen Remodeling
Deduct Private Mortgage Insurance
Bathroom Addition: Return on Investment
Inspecting and Maintaining Your Roof

And these were just from a quick browse of the home page. You can see that there are a variety of real estate and home ownership topics covered. Each article has links to related articles. There is a wealth of information on this site and I highly recommend consumers take a look at it and learn more about what they can do to protect and enhance the value of their real estate.

Click Houselogic to visit the site.

Related Articles On Pensacola Real Estate News:

Home Improvements: Which Ones Really Pay Off

How You Can Save Big Money On Home Improvements

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Impact From the HomeBuyer Tax Credit

How much impact has the extension of the home buyer tax credit had on Pensacola Real Estate sales?

The answer is elusive. There are many factors involved that make it hard to determine what impact the tax credit has had on local real estate sales.  One report released on March 1st, 2010 indicated that the extension of the tax credit has had very little impact on real estate sales on a national level.

Congress extended the first time homebuyer tax credit of $8000 through June 2010. In addition, they added a tax credit of $6500 for existing homeowners who decide to purchase another home (it must be their primary residence).

Homebuyer Tax Credit

The report  I read through the Florida Association of Realtors indicated that so far, people are staying put.  The results of the report are based on nationwide real estate sales and interviews with real estate agents around the country.

Why isn’t the homebuyer tax credit working as expected?

High Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is still near 10 percent and consumer confidence is falling. During periods of high unemployment and low consumer confidence, buyers tend to wait it out, not run out and buy a home.

Many Homeowners are Upside Down

While many homeowners would love to sell right now, their mortgage is higher than the value of their home. They are stuck where they are.

Harsh Winter Weather

Since we have had an unusually cold winter, many would-be buyers are not out house shopping. Even Pensacola has been unseasonably cold this winter.

Tax Credit Just Not Big Enough

It appears the tax credit is just not enough to entice buyers out into the real estate market. When people’s confidence is low, they are more likely to play it safe and stay put, even if they have the ability to move.  And the amount of the tax credits is not even enough to cover moving and closing costs if selling an existing home to purchase a new one is even an option.

I checked the Pensacola Real Estate Market sales for February 2010 (full report coming soon) and was pleasantly surprised to find that Pensacola Real Estate sales are on par to match or exceed last year’s February home sales. February already has 259 home sales, which is 50 more than January of this year (see January Pensacola Real Estate Market Report).

As of this writing, February is over and we’re into March. However, there are still real estate agents who have not entered their sold listings from February into the Pensacola MLS. To get the most accurate real estate market data, I usually have to wait a week to 10 days after the end of the month to check the local market statistics. (Personal pet peeve, which I won’t get on a soapbox about at this time).

Tax Credit Qualification

To qualify for the $6,500 credit, buyers must have owned and lived in the same home for five consecutive years out of the past eight. They must sign a contract by April 30 and close before June 30. The home’s purchase price can’t exceed $800,000, and it must be used as a main residence. The income limit for single taxpayers is $125,000; for a married couple, it’s $225,000.

The same rules above apply to first-time homebuyers, except that the tax credit is $8000 and the buyer must not have owned a home for the previous 3 years.

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