Real Estate Information Archive


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What does homeownership mean?

by Blog Specialist

Call Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services today to start your journey to home ownership. 814.866.8840 or e-mail

Why is federal support for home ownership a good thing?

by Blog Specialist

Without government-supported mortgage programs from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and VA, interest rates on home mortgages would rise.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: A Look at Mortgage Lending Without Them
Some legislators say we don’t need mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What would happen if lawmakers got their way?

How Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Save You Money
Home owners who use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages save thousands of dollars in interest payments each year.

Show Your Support for FHA
FHA allows responsible borrowers with good credit to buy a home with as little as 3.5% down and to refinance easily.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Incentives for Home Buyers
Buying a home or your next home? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer incentives to help you buy foreclosed properties. Both initiatives aim to stabilize communities and foster affordable home ownership. 

Fannie Mae’s  

Freddie Mac’s

What's so great about mortgage interest deduction?

by Blog Specialist

The mortgage interest deduction—representing hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year in tax saving to individual home owners—is helping to keep Americans in their homes at a time when many of them are struggling financially. 

7 Mortgage Interest Deduction Myths
Think losing the mortgage interest deduction would be no big deal? We bust seven myths to show why the cost is bigger than you think.

Your Mortgage Deduction: Turn Tax Savings into Home Value
Sock away your mortgage deduction tax savings, and you’ll have a nice cushion for life’s necessities—and a few luxuries. Here’s how a typical household might spend their tax savings at various life stages.

Mortgage Interest Deduction Vital to Housing Market
The mortgage deduction saves the average home owner thousands of dollars at tax time, supports home values at the community level, and helps home buyers get into their first house.

Deduct Mortgage Interest and Home Equity Loans
Deducting mortgage interest, as well as interest on home equity loans and HELOCs, can save you money on taxes.

How does home ownership help produce jobs?

by Blog Specialist

Home ownership is strongly tied to jobs in this country. For every two homes sold, one job is created in this country. In addition, each home purchase generates as much as $60,000 in economic activity over time.


Call Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services today to start your journey to home ownership. 814.866.8840 or e-mail

What does homeownership mean?

by Blog Specialist

Call Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services today to start your journey to home ownership. 814.866.8840 or e-mail

It Pays to Support Responsible Homeownership

by Blog Specialist

Helping others become homeowners protects your home’s value and builds stronger communities.

Doing your part to help other Americans gain a foothold on the homeownership ladder doesn’t just help them. You’ll benefit both your community and your own pocketbook.

When people move from renting to owning a home, they’re more likely to vote, get involved in community groups, and care about their home’s appearance. The children of homeowners do 23% better in school, according to a 2001 study by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. And a steady flow of first-time homebuyers makes it easier to sell your own starter home when you’re ready to move up to a larger property.

Make housing affordable

One way to make more people homeowners is to make housing more affordable. All U.S. homeowners benefit from policies like the mortgage interest tax deduction. Many use government-backed mortgage insurance to lower loan costs. A variety of public and private programs offer low-cost loans and downpayment assistance to help Americans become homeowners. Help prospective homeowners save a downpayment by donating to sites like EARN, a non-profit that uses donations to match funds saved by low-wage earners.

Reduce foreclosures and preserve home value

Foreclosure matters because it hurts all homeowners. In 2009, foreclosures will cause property values to decline an average of $7,200 for about 70 million homeowners, resulting in a $502 billion loss in home equity, the Center for Responsible Lending estimates. Each foreclosure within 1/8th of a mile of your home lowers your property value about 0.744 percent, CRL says.

“One of the sad lessons of the [recent past] is that we aren’t alone,” says Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the JCHS. “It’s clear that if the family next door loses their home to foreclosure, my home’s value will go down. Therefore, I have a vested interest in ensuring that people become homeowners and that homeownership is sustained over time.”

One effective tool against foreclosure is educating homeowners before they buy. The Joint Center found that loan delinquencies fell 13% with homeownership counseling. People who go through pre-purchase and post-purchase counseling and learn about mortgages, family budgeting, and home maintenance are less apt to face foreclosure, says Michael Berti, senior homeownership specialist at the Rural Ulster Preservation Company in Kingston, N.Y.

Support groups that help homeowners

One way to do your part to help other homeowners is by donating your time or money to some of the many non-profits that promote responsible homeownership.

Habitat for Humanity partners with new homeowners to build affordable housing. Habitat homes aren’t free. Homeowners work hundreds of hours, get homeownership counseling, and make mortgage payments.

The United Way supports many local programs that build affordable housing, help families build financial assets, and teach financial management skills. If you donate to United Way, you can direct your contribution to those causes.

HomeownershipSF, in San Francisco, tries to intervene where people facing foreclosure have the resources to catch up on their loan. If “the home can’t be saved, we try to get a first-time homebuyer we’ve worked with into the home as quickly as possible to stabilize the neighborhood,” says Interim Director Christi Baker. 

Government programs support homeownership

Supporting federal state, and local programs that help create homeowners is another way you can expand responsible and affordable homeownership.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Authority provide mortgage loan insurance or guarantees that let people buy homes with only a small downpayment and borrow at lower interest rates. 

Government-sponsored groups Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and government-run Ginnie Mae buy and securitize mortgage loans made by banks, freeing up money, so banks can keep lending.

Sites like Govtrack and RollCall help you stay on top of laws that affect homeowners.

HUD’s HOME program provides financial support to state and local housing authorities to build and renovate for-sale and rental housing for lower-income Americans.

In U.S. cities of all sizes, the HOPE VI program has funded plans to replace deteriorating public housing with new low-rise, mixed-income homes. These developments sell most homes at market rates, but designate a percentage for use by low-income homeowners.

How to get involved

You can support responsible homeownership in many ways. Retired construction contractors France and Bill Moriarity travel the country in their RV managing Habitat construction projects. “We like it because it’s a hand up, not a hand out,” France Moriarity says. Habitat volunteers don’t need construction skills and can sign up to work as little as one day at a time. Groups can volunteer together. Organizations like Rebuilding Together and NeighborWorks America sponsor once yearly volunteer events that help lower-income homeowners repair their homes.

In San Francisco, Gregg Lynn convinced 150 people from his professional network to donate a percentage of their income to EARN. Follow his lead by asking your professional network, trade association, or social group to contribute.

Dona DeZube has been writing about real estate for over two decades. She lives a suburban Baltimore 1970s rancher on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound.

By: Dona DeZube

Housing and Economic Forecast Points to Rising Activity


WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011

Home sales are expected to stay on an uptrend through 2012, although the performance will be uneven with mortgage constraints weighing on the market, according to experts at a residential real estate forum today at the Realtors® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo here.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said existing-home sales have been underperforming by historical standards and will rise gradually but unevenly. “If we just hold at the first-quarter sales pace of 5.1 million, sales this year would rise 4 percent, but the remainder of the year looks better,” Yun said. “We expect 5.3 million existing-home sales this year, up from 4.9 million in 2010, with additional gains in 2012 to about 5.6 million – that’s a sustainable level given the size of our population.”

Mortgage interest rates should rise gradually to 5.5 percent by the end of the year and average 6.0 percent in 2012 – still relatively affordable by historic standards.

“A huge volume of cash sales, supported by the recovery in the stock market, show that smart money is chasing real estate. This implies that there could be a sizeable pent-up demand if mortgages become more readily accessible for qualified buyers,” Yun said. “The problem isn’t with interest rates, but with the continuation of unnecessarily tight credit standards that are keeping many creditworthy buyers from getting a loan despite extraordinarily low default rates over the past two years.”

Yun said that if credit requirements returned to normal, safe standards, home sales would be 15 to 20 percent higher. He added that some parents are buying homes with cash for their children, and offering them loans which provide better returns than bank accounts or CDs.

Yun projects the Gross Domestic Product to grow 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2012, adding 1.5 million to 2 million jobs yearly over the next two years. The unemployment rate should decline to 8.8 percent by the end of 2011 and average 8.6 percent next year, returning to a normal level of 6 percent around 2015.

Housing starts are forecast to rise but remain below long-term trends, reaching 603,000 in 2011, up from 595,000 last year, and continue growing to 908,000 in 2012. New-home sales are seen at a record low 320,000 this year, rising to 487,000 in 2012. “A recovery in new homes will be slow because of the extra price discount in the existing home market,” Yun noted. In March, the typical new single-family home cost $53,300 more than an existing home. Inflation appears to be relatively modest for now, with the Consumer Price Index rising 2.9 percent this year. “We’ll be closely watching the impact of fuel costs on consumer spending and inflation – that would slow economic growth, job creation and home sales,” Yun said.

Apartment rents are trending up, and are likely to rise at faster rates as vacancies decline. Following the correction in home prices, it has now become more affordable to buy in most of the country. “Twice as many renters had enough income to buy a home in 2010 in comparison with 2005, so we have a much larger pool of financially qualified renters,” Yun said. “Rising rents and excellent housing affordability conditions will encourage potential buyers who’ve been on the sidelines.”

Yun expects the median existing-home price to remain near $170,000 over the next two years, which would mark four consecutive years of essentially no meaningful price change.

Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, holds similar views on the outlook. “Economic activity will accelerate this year – there will be no double dip in the economy,” he said. Nothaft is more optimistic on job growth, expecting 2.0 million to 2.5 million jobs created in 2011 with unemployment dropping to 8.4 percent by the end of the year.

Nothaft expects the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to trend up to 5.25 percent by the end of the year, and for home sales to rise 5 percent. “National home price indices are close to a bottom and prices are likely to bottom sometime this year,” he said.

Refinancing activity in 2011 will be only half of what it was last year. “As a result, banks may become more willing to lend to home buyers,” Nothaft said.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data, tables and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

Meet Nanci Lorei

by Blog Specialist

Nanci Lorei, REALTOR®, Associate Broker

Office Phone: (814) 866-8840
Office Fax:
(814) 866-8631
Cell Phone:
(814) 881-0580

Nanci prides herself on timely communication and understands how this basic, yet important aspect of doing business can influence the outcome of each transaction. She provides honest, high quality service with a focus on the details of her customers’ needs and goals to develop winning strategies that will deliver results. READ MORE

Housing Market Expected to Follow Overall Economy


Home sales are expected to outpace 2010 sales by 3 to 5 percent for the remainder of 2011 as the housing market follows the overall economy, according to Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for July, released Monday, suggests the housing market is not likely to see a full “double dip.”

According to the report, “The sluggish job update likely reflects a temporary ‘soft patch’ in the economy rather than foreshadowing an inflection point in gross domestic product (GDP) growth.”

Unemployment rose for the third straight month, now up to 9.2 percent, the highest rate in six months, while nonfarm payroll employment increased by only 18,000 jobs.

“Following June’s labor market report, households are naturally concerned about their financial futures which is

being reflected in the housing market,” said Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, Frank Nothaft.

“Yet, the single-family market will likely improve over the balance of 2011, in keeping with positive GDP forecasts for the United States,” Nothaft continued.

The rental housing market showed signs of recovery with a 15.2 percent gain through the first quarter of 2011, according to the Apartment Property Price Index.

April prices rose compared to March, according to the FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index for the U.S. and Standard and Poor’s S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices, which showed gains of 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Nothaft notes, “[A]fter clear weakness in national price metrics through the first quarter, there are glimmers the second quarter will likely show gradual improvement over time.”

Freddie Mac also announced a reminder to sellers and servicers that the temporary maximum loan limits for mortgages secured by properties in some high-cost areas are set to expire September 30, 2011. The expiration applies to sales of super conforming mortgages to Freddie Mac.

Super conforming loans dated on or after October 1, 2011 are subject to limits imposed by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will likely provide new HERA loan limits for 2012.

Recommend buyers check PA Megan’s Law registry

by PAR

By Hank Lerner, Esq.

That new listing your client likes is right next to a community playground.  They’ve asked you whether any registered sex offenders live nearby.

Over the past few years, many municipalities across the country – including some in Pennsylvania – have passed local ordinances that restrict where sex offenders can live.  Most of them say something like “a convicted sex offender may not reside within 2,500 feet of a child-care facility, recreational facility, community center, public park or school.”  If the listing is in one of these municipalities, you might think the ordinance would keep registered offenders at least a half-mile away from the home.  In fact, you might even say something like “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, our local laws keep those kind of people away from our community.”

But you’d probably be wrong.

A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has basically invalidated these sorts of local ordinances throughout the state.

The case of Fross v. County of Allegheny involved an Allegheny County ordinance with the language cited above. A unanimous Supreme Court ruled that because the ordinance would push sex offenders to live in “localized penal colonies of sorts” – a map showed that most of the county would be off limits – it clearly conflicted with the existing registration and tracking provisions incorporated into the current Megan’s Law

In short, since the state already has created a system to keep track of the activities of these offenders, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments cannot create additional layers of restrictions.  Based on this ruling, it’s likely that most or all ordinances similar to the ones in Allegheny County are also invalid and some municipalities are now going back and repealing them in order to avoid additional litigation.

So what does it mean to you as the buyer’s agent? State law says real estate licensees have no duty to research or disclose information about sex offenders, so keep doing what you should have been doing all along – recommending that your buyers check the PA Megan’s Law registry to see what registered offenders may live near a property.  The site is easy to use; just enter the address you want to know about and select how far you want the search to go.  Results are shown both as a list and plotted on a map and they include information such as the offender’s name, photograph and relevant history.

Finally, remember that this is a potential issue for all buyers, not just ones with children, so be sure to let all buyers know of the site.  If you use the PAR Buyer Agency Contract (Form BAC), paragraph 16 gives buyers the information they need to know.  Be sure to bring this to your clients’ attention as you review the contract with them and then remind them again when signing the Agreement of Sale, which has similar language in the Notices on the back of page 1.

About Hank Lerner, Esq.:
Hank Lerner, Esq. is the Director of Professional Practice at the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®.

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Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services

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Erie PA 16509
Fax: 814.866.8631

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