Monday, August 9, 2010

Finally a Homeowner in Florida

Yes, I finally closed on a home in South Florida. Now that the boxes are unpacked (well, mostly), some thoughts on the process. Not to deter any wanting to purchase a home, the real estate market in South Florida is particularly daunting if you are wanting a mortgage (See, South Florida Mortgage Rates At Record Lows, but Who Can Get Them?). And, I was moving to a new area to start new employment adding complication to any mortgage application. The loan approval came less than a week before closing, and I breathed a great sigh of relief that the worst part was over (the tax returns, w-2s, document requests, interviews, etc.).

By the time I closed, though, new lending requirements meant a change in lending product and another round of documents! The closing was also delayed a few days. Since our family's belongings were already en route from two far reaching parts of the country (Oregon and Massachusetts), we were faced with the prospect of furniture arriving before the home closed. While it all worked out well in the end, there was much stress and the specter that it might not close at all. The lender's agent seemed unprepared for the changes in requirements for home mortgages that are ever changing, so that the lender was working last minute on details that should have been addressed much earlier in the process (i.e., calling for employment verifications for all employers for the last 5 years the day before closing). I thought to myself, with all this headache, who would actually want to buy a home in South Florida!

So, what does this all say? It seems to me a sign that changing, strict credit standards will impede the real estate market. (See, Borrowers Hit New Home-Loan Hurdles). While credit standards for home loans may have been too easy, they might now be too hard. Of course, the Florida market still has signs of distress, so it may be one of the last markets to see easing of credit standards in real estate. An excess of care and caution of lenders, though, impedes their own business and the real estate market as a whole, making recovery further off. When I listen to NPR on the drive to the office in the morning and hear reports of the sluggish real estate market, I am not surprised. The core of the problem is confidence in borrowers and the real estate market as a whole. While those in the real estate industry attempt to be optimistic, more marked recovery would seem to require a level of confidence that does not permeate South Florida at this time.

As for me, I'll be finishing off the last of my boxes for another week or so . . . glad that I can now send in that first mortgage payment next month!


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