Monthly Archives: July, 2006

Modernizing FHA Loans

The Expanding American Homeownership Act has been passed by the House Of Representatives bringing FHA into the 21st Century and offering hard-working Americans a variety of safe homeownership options at a fair price. This legislation will:

1) Eliminate the current statutory three percent minimum down payment, reducing a significant barrier to homeownership. FHA’s existing down payment requirement does not meet the demands of today’s marketplace, where most first-time homebuyers put down two percent or less. The “new” FHA would offer a variety of down payment options.

2) Create a new, risk-based insurance premium structure for FHA that would match the premium amount with the credit profile of the borrower. It would replace the current structure, in which there is standard premium amount for all borrowers, while still protecting the soundness of its Insurance Fund. FHA would have the flexibility to charge a lower premium for low-risk borrowers, and to charge higher-risk borrowers a slightly higher premium.

3) Increase and simplify FHA’s loan limits. FHA’s loan limit in high-cost areas would rise from 87 to 100 percent of the GSE conforming loan limit and in lower-cost areas from 48 to 65 percent of the conforming loan limit. This change is crucial in today’s housing market. In many areas of the country, the existing FHA limits are lower than the cost of new construction, eliminating FHA financing as an option for buyers of new homes in those markets. FHA has simply been priced out of the market in other areas, such as California, where FHA insured only about 5,000 home mortgages in all of 2005, down 95 percent from 109,000 in 2000.

HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov.
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If you are thinking of buying or selling Vermont real estate or have questions about FHA loans, visit my website or send me an email. I can help!

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Back To School Warm-Up

Parents helping a child prepare for that first post-summer-vacation reading quiz often find themselves wondering if he has forgotten everything he learned the year before. Research shows that the “summer brain-drain” phenomenon is no figment of the imagination. Over summer vacation, children can forget more than two months worth of school instruction.

“Research by experts verifies what parents and teachers have long known – over the three short months of summer vacation, most children forget a significant amount of what they learned during the previous school year,” says Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning. In fact, Johns Hopkins research shows that teachers typically spend four to six weeks reteaching last year’s lessons. “Parents can help children stay in shape academically by making learning a year-round habit,” says Fairchild.

So how can parents help children keep their brains in top condition for back-to-school excellence?

“First, make it fun,” advises Wendy Bronfin, vice president of education and product development at Educate Products, makers of Hooked on Phonics, the brand that over 2 million families have turned to for teaching their children reading, math and study skills. “There are a lot of great ways to integrate learning into your everyday activities, even while on vacation. Summer is a great time to spend with your child and foster a lifelong love of reading.”
Bronfin suggests coaching your child through the following year-round fun brain exercises:

* Keep kids reading. Before school starts, help your child choose a short list of books to read. While you can suggest a book, author, series or subject you think your child might enjoy, let the child choose what he wants to read. Reinforce the idea that reading is fun.

* A library visit is a great way to occupy a rainy summer afternoon. Suggest that your child invite a friend. Make sure everyone in your library party checks out something new and begins reading it that day. Make trips to the public library a regular family outing!

* Help your child prepare for the inevitable “What I Did on Summer Vacation” report he’ll have to give when he returns to school. Before taking a family vacation, read with your child about the destination.

* Help your child look up online the lyrics to fun summer-themed songs. Kids find computers fun and the technology can be a great way to boost their interest in reading.

* With summer comes a host of children’s movies. Before you take your child to the latest hit, sit down with him and read the book version first. Then see the movie and discuss which version he liked best and why.

* Make reading aloud a family experience. At the end of a long summer day, take turns reading from a classic book the whole family can enjoy. Set aside a regular family read-aloud time, usually 20 to 30 minutes, or as long as it takes to read a certain number of pages or chapters. This can become a favorite family tradition.

* Demonstrate that reading is part of everyday life by encouraging your child to read things found on summer vacation, like a newspaper from a new town, travel magazines, barbecue recipes, maps and game instructions.

* Play games that encourage reading and learning, like the classic I Spy game or a letter-sound treasure hunt, during which you hide around the yard treats or toys that all begin with the same letter.

* Try an activity kit. The Hooked on Phonics Super Activity Kits are filled with hours of brain-building, fun activities. The kits use a DVD loaded with MP3 songs, music videos, cartoons and adventures with Lou the Hippo to help keep kids educationally active during the summer. Each kit includes an activity pad, write-on/wipe-off journal and special erasable crayons and stickers, all in a convenient resealable package. Hooked on Math products are also especially relevant since research shows summer learning loss is more pronounced with math.
Hooked on Phonics products can be found at participating retailers or online at http://www.hookedonphonics.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/.
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If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in southern Vermont prior to school starting this fall, you have just enough time. Visit my website to view all real estate listings, get a FREE home valuation, free reports and more.

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Go Star Power Annual Conference

Star Power Systems is hosting their annual conference in 2006 in New York City July 19-22. Top Agents from all over the world will be in attendance to hear today’s latest and greatest techniques for selling real estate.

Brett Ellis will be a featured speaker in the Thurday AM Yechnology session entitled “Road Warrior Technology.” To sign up, simply visit Go Star Power Annual Conference website here.

Music In The Meadow

An annual Music Festival and Fundraiser. Bring a blanket, a picnic basket and a frisbee! A great way to spend the day! Live music from talented musicians, food vendors, crafts, a pretty country setting and friendly people. All proceeds benefit the Race For The Cure.

Sponsored by: Motel-in-the-Meadow, Chester Music Shoppe & Flying Under the Radar.

When? July 15, 2006

Where? Motel-In-The-Meadow, Chester, Vermont
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Thinking about buying or selling a Vermont home? Visit my website for all real estate listings, get the value of your home and more!

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First Time Buyers are Picky, Picky, Picky!

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has just revealed a study of first-time home buyers and just what they are willing or not willing to compromise on when buying a home.

Both buyers and sellers may want to take note of the findings:

40% are unwilling to buy a home smaller than the’d like.

40% are unwilling to buy a home needing significant improvements.

46% will not buy further from work than they would like.

70% will not move to a less desirable neighborhood.

97% of first-time home buyers would never go back to renting.

77% believe buying their home is the best investment they ever made.

Nearly 75% of first-time buyers believe that the value of their home will go up in 2006.

78% of renters believe that it is generally true that people cannot obtain mortgages without perfect credit, and 52% of renters believe that they personally can’t get a mortgage because of credit issues. But 46% of the first-time buyers surveyed didn’t believe their credit was “excellent” or even “very good.”

56% of renters believe that a downpayment of 15 percent or more is required when buying a home, and 55% believe that size of a downpayment is a personal barrier for them. But 74%reported they put less than 15 percent down.

I believe “picky” is a good thing. Buying a home is the largest investment most of us make and it needs to be right for you. Contact me, or visit my website, if you are thinking about buying a home near Okemo Mountain in Vermont. I am glad to work with “picky” buyers!