Home Week

American
S u n d a y, a p r i l 11 , 2 0 1 0

Albuquerque Journal

A Special Supplement

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

Preparation eases way for first-time home buyers
By Amanda Schoenberg
Journal Staff Writer

B

uying a home is the biggest investment most people make — and that often makes it the most stressful, particularly for first-time home buyers. Knowing what to expect, from the time needed to close to the pages of documents that need to be signed, will make the process go smoother, says Blythe Camenson, a Realtor with Century 21 Camco who also renovates homes. First-time home buyers can still benefit from an $8,000 federal tax credit if they hurry. First-time buyers, including people who haven’t owned a home in three years and earn less than $125,000 a year, can qualify if they sign a binding contract by April 30 and close by June 30. As she watched her rent climb to nearly $1,000 a month last year, Patricia Latham decided it was time to buy. Latham, a divorced grandmother, learned she was eligible for the tax credit because she hadn’t owned a home for years. Working with Camenson, she started the process in July and closed on her Albuquerque home in September. “If I hadn’t ... jumped on it, I think I would have regretted it,” says Latham, who works in professional development at the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations at New Mexico Highlands University. Even for buyers who miss the deadline, Camenson says it is a buyer’s market in New Mexico. “Once the credit expires, it’s not the end of the world,” she says.

than $55,900 for one to two people may qualify for a first mortgage loan and down payment assistance from MFA, says Nore.

First, not last home
When she works with buyers, Camenson asks them what kind of house and neighborhood they prefer. Especially for first-timers, she often reminds them that this may not be a dream home but a step toward it. She also encourages buyers to consider whether they will be able to resell the house when they’re ready to move to a new home. For example, a Downtown condo may appeal to a young, single man but not to a family. “This is their first home, not their last home,” she says. “You have to buy smart.” Camenson advises most first-time buyers against fixer-uppers that need major repairs, which can quickly spiral out of control. With Camenson’s help, Latham says she learned to look beyond aesthetics to evaluate the “bones” of a home. “She said, ‘Don’t look at the furniture. Don’t look at the carpet — look beyond it. Does the home feel comfortable?’” Latham used her tax credit to pay for some renovations, which Camenson handled. “I was able to create my little dream home,” she says.

pat vasquez-cunningham/journal

Patricia Latham, outside her Albuquerque home, qualified for the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers because she hadn’t owned a home for years.
“You don’t want to find something you love and not be able to buy it,” says Erik Nore, director of homeownership for the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, which provides housing financing for lowto moderate-income New Mexicans. There are two options — preapproval and pre-qualification. To pre-qualify, buyers provide limited information and an estimate of credit scores. At Premier Choice Mortgage in Albuquerque, co-owner and loan originator Rob Burdick prefers to skip straight to pre-approval, which provides a complete assessment of buyer finances. For pre-approval, buyers must verify their assets with bank statements, provide salary information and authorize a credit report check. Most loans require a credit score of at least 660, Burdick says. For buyers worried about credit, Burdick recommends speaking with a broker to identify solutions. Many first-time buyers use a high percentage of their available credit, he says. One solution is to pay down debt on credit cards with low limits. He tells clients not to open or close credit lines, which can hurt their scores. Once buyers are pre-approved, they will know how much they can afford and can start looking for a home. Mortgage brokers also help buyers decide on a loan. People who have saved 10 percent to 15 percent of the cost of their home usually choose a conventional loan, Burdick says. To qualify for a Federal Housing Authority loan, buyers can’t purchase homes worth more than $271,050. They also need a 3.5 percent down payment. In the Albuquerque metro area, first-time home buyers who earn less

Negotiations begin
Once buyers find a home they want to purchase, real estate agents craft a purchase agreement that must be signed by the buyers and sellers. That is far from the end of the process, says Camenson. There are three phases of negotiation when buying a home. The first is the price of the home, which is determined in a purchase agreement. Other negotiations revolve around the inspection report, which can turn up unseen problems like that
See FIRST-TIMERS on PAGE 3

Get pre-approved
The first step is to get preapproved for a home loan by finding a mortgage broker or choosing a Realtor who can suggest a broker, says Camenson.

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American Home Week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

3

First-timers should expect stress as deal nears closure
from PAGE 2

Mortgage $aver first-time buyer loan
to qualify for the New Mexico Mortgage finance Authority’s Mortgage $aver first-time home buyer loan: 1. Buyers cannot have owned and lived in a home for three years. 2. in Albuquerque, buyers must earn less than $55,900 for one to two people. 3. Buyers cannot spend more than $237,000 on the home. 4. Buyers must live in the home after purchasing it. 5. the home must be a single unit; it cannot be an income-generating property.
Source: erik Nore, MfA

new roof the sellers put off buying, and the appraisal. If a home doesn’t appraise at the price a buyer offers, a Realtor will renegotiate the price. After the purchase agreement is signed, it usually takes four to six weeks to close, says Camenson. A few days before closing, buyers walk through the home one last time. If they find a problem, buyers can always put off the closing, she says. Buyers should make sure gas and utilities are kept on and turned over to their name. Water bills are handled by the title company. Usually the day before closing, buyers find out how much money they need to bring. But that doesn’t mean they should run out and hire

a moving van. Buyers don’t get keys until funding — when a mortgage company releases funds and the deed is recorded, which can happen the same day as the closing or within a few days. As negotiations stretch on and moving boxes loom, buyers should expect stress, says Camenson. She advises them to let real estate agents handle as much of the stress as possible. “Know that it won’t last forever,” she says. Burdick reminds buyers of the sheer number of people involved in any home purchase, including mortgage brokers, real estate agents, underwriters, appraisers, inspectors and title company people. “That’s a lot of people with their own ideas and needs,” Burdick says. “You’ve got to be ready to be the target of a lot of shooters.”

file photo

First-time home buyers can still benefit from an $8,000 federal tax credit if they hurry.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

Alfresco option
Builders accommodate love of the outdoors with kitchens, living areas
By Jane Mahoney
For the Journal

entertaining options that seem to come naturally in an outdoor setting. Still others prefer outdoor cooking in the summertime as a way to keep the interior oven turned off and the home cooler.

Larger spaces
Custom builder Jim Madueña, owner of Placitas-based JG Madueña Homes, says the mountain and mesa views so sought after in Placitas have been the inspiration for what he calls “sub-spaces” within his company’s outdoor design plans. Many of his homes have not only covered outdoor kitchen and dining spaces, but also additional patio extensions that open up to the night skies and invite family and guests to gather around an outdoor fireplace or fire pit when the dining portion of the evening is completed. Madueña has constructed horno ovens and bancos as well. Adds Reynolds, “We’ve included wood-burning pizza ovens, fireplaces, swimming pools and water features to complement the outdoor living and kitchen outside. That means that we are now designing outdoor living areas large enough to include cooking areas, dining areas and lounge areas furnished with outdoor sofas, chairs and tables. Spaces large enough to accommodate pool tables or pingpong are also common. “Just about every outdoor kitchen and living area now includes a space for the large flat screen TV along with a speaker system for music.” Upscale kitchen features include prep sinks alongside bar tops for sitting and eating, refrigerators, freezers and large work areas. The proximity of the outdoor living space to the rest of the home should be a primary consideration, according to the builders. “Perhaps the most requested feature we are including in several of our designs is a large glass pocket door system, which when open completely disappears, blurring the distinction between indoor and outdoor living spaces,” says Reynolds.
See WITH on PAGE 12

I

t’s spring. That means meal preparation, dining and entertaining can shift to the outdoors in New Mexico — and remain there for the better part of the year. Custom builders have moved far beyond installing a gas stub for a barbecue grill somewhere on the back patio and calling it an outdoor kitchen. Instead, that grill, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, has become one of several centerpieces in an outdoor living area that includes a genuine kitchen alongside dining, and lounging, spaces. “Outdoor living areas complete with outdoor kitchens are one of the most requested features we include in our custom homes today,” says builder Bill Reynolds, president of New Haven Homes. “In fact, I can’t think of a home we have built in the last five years that did not emphasize the outdoor living and cooking space as a major design feature.” By kitchen, think beyond the old propane-powered grill that once churned out hot dogs and steaks. Today’s outdoor kitchens, usually positioned under the protection of a portal or roof, can include everything from refrigerators to built-in pizza ovens. Hardy countertops, storage cabinets, outdoor sinks and ventilation fans to whisk away the smoky evidence of grilled hamburgers have become standard features in many upscale outdoor kitchens. The grill itself may include features such as rotisseries, griddles, side burners and smokers, and might perform a multitude of functions ranging from searing pork chops to baking a cake. Some folks love family dinners outdoors; others like the casual

courtesy JG Madueña HoMes

Outdoor grilling areas include more than just barbecue grills these days. Sinks, refrigerators and more are common. This is a house by JG Madueña Homes.

courtesy new Haven HoMes

This New Haven Homes house has an outdoor living area and a view.

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American Home Week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

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Check references, ask questions before deciding on a contractor
By Emily Van Cleve
For the Journal

B

urke Denman, president of the Santa Fe design and construction firm Denman & Associates, likes to give prospective clients a packet of information with letters of reference when he is approached about building a new home. He is delighted when homeowners make follow-up phone calls to check on his references. “Don’t take letters of reference at face value,” says Denman, who has been building homes in New Mexico since 1971. “Homeowners should call a builder’s references, particularly the subcontractors and architects. These are the people working with the contractor day in and day out. If they have a good relationship with the contractor after repeatedly going through the building process together, that says more than anything else about the builder.” Finding a good, reliable builder takes time and requires homeowners to do their homework. Homeowners need to know that their builder is not only highly skilled at what he or she does but also fiscally responsible and meticulous about following the law when taking care of business. By asking the right kinds of questions before signing on the dotted line, the process of building a home can be positive for all parties involved.

Once a contractor’s references have been checked out, Denman says it’s time to dig further. “Talk with the contractor’s banker,” he suggests. “A contractor should have a good line of credit with his banker. The contractor should not ask for a big down payment at the beginning of the project. If he does, it suggests he doesn’t have a good relationship with his banker.”

Go to the state
Before selecting a contractor, verify his or her license number by contacting the Construction Industries Division of the state Regulation & Licensing Department (www.rld.state. nm.us/cid). The office is also a good place to find out if there are complaints about a builder. “You want to be sure that a contractor or remodeler carries general liability insurance (that covers bodily injury and property damage during the course of work) and workman’s compensation,” says Jim Folkman, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico. “You also should get a written lien waiver from the builder. In case the builder doesn’t pay his subcontractors, the lien waiver protects the homeowner from being responsible for these bills.” Folkman has a list of questions he thinks are important to ask a contractor or remodeler before the work

begins. “Find out if the work is guaranteed and to what extent it is guaranteed,” he says. “Ask if all the necessary building permits will be obtained, and then ask to see them. You also want to know who is in charge of the job so you know the person to speak with if there is a problem or question. “If you’re working with a remodeler, find out how your home, children and pets will be protected during the construction process. Cleanup is important, especially if you live in a neighborhood. Ask how the remodeler or builder is going to handle the cleanup at the end of the project.”

eddie moore/journal

Burke Denman, president of Denman & Associates in Santa Fe, says homeowners looking for a builder should check references. Denman is shown here near an 18-kilowatt photovoltaic system his company is installing for a home in Santa Fe.

Hire a team
Sometimes, homeowners go through the process of selecting a contractor after they begin working with an architect. Denman recommends hiring both at the same time so they can work as a team. “I’ve seen architects greatly underestimate construction costs,” says Denman. “It’s not their expertise to know construction costs the way a builder does.” The best way to avoid construction cost overrun problems, Denman says, is to make drawings of all changes to the original plans and get estimates from the builder in writing. After both parties sign and date the documents, staple them to the original contract.

file photo

Finding a reliable builder takes time and requires homeowners to do their homework.
“Always make changes on paper first,” he adds. “Don’t just talk about them and then make them in the field. I’ve known homeowners who thought a construction change was going to cost $2,000, based on what the builder said to them in conversation. When they got the bill, the change really cost $12,000.” Even if a builder has a stellar reputation, Denman recommends paying attention to intuition when trying to choose the right person for a job. “Ask yourself if you think you would actually enjoy working with that person,” he says. “There can be a lot of joy in the building experience.”

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

Survey shows buyers, owners are thinking smaller, greener
The Orlando Sentinel

P

lanning on building, buying or improving your home this year? Chances are you’re thinking smaller, smarter and more family-centric. “We continue to see a ‘cents and sensibilities’ approach when it comes to buying or improving a home,” says Eliot Nusbaum, Better Homes and Gardens’ executive editor for home design. Nusbaum made the comment while presenting the results of the magazine’s Next Home Survey at the

National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nev., this year. Energy-efficiency, organization and comfort are top priorities of potential new home buyers and homeowners planning improvements, he says. “Today’s homeowner is also looking for a home that fits the entire family — from a multi-tasking home office, to expanded storage space, to a living room that can adapt to advancements in home entertainment and technology,” says Nusbaum.

Later, speaking by phone from his office in Des Moines, Iowa, he says: “When someone says their highest priority is an efficient HVAC system, you know we’re not living the same dream as three years ago. That dream was having a showplace home — a McMansion with the emphasis on two stories, big public spaces and an expensive fit-and-finish kitchen. “Now, those things have drifted to the back burner. Today it’s ‘what I need’ versus ‘what I want.’”

New-home trends
Here are some of the results of Better Homes and Gardens’ Next Home Survey, and some of the trends that may influence new-home building and homeimprovement projects in 2010: 87 percent of respondents said a greener, more energyefficient home is a priority
n n

outdoor grilling and living area 59 percent wanted a home office
n

36 percent said their next home would be “somewhat smaller” or “much smaller”
n

75 percent said the economy has impacted their home-improvement plans
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68 percent wanted an

52 percent said now is the time to spend on needed repairs and maintenance, rather than major homeimprovement projects
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American Home Week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

7

Clean and simple set stage, right tone for selling a house
By Jean Patteson
The Orlando Sentinel

W

ant to sell your home? Get out the bucket, mop and Mr. Clean. The key to making a positive first impression is simple, says Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV’s popular “Property Virgins” show. “Get it clean, clean, clean.” “If your house isn’t clean, it instantly sends up negative thoughts that the home is not well-maintained. If your house is spotless, you’re ahead of the game,” she says. But don’t stop there, advises Rinomato in a telephone interview

from her home in San Diego. To increase your chances of making a sale, “stage” the house to make it as attractive as possible. Until recently, “staging meant pulling out all the stops — setting the dining table with your best china and crystal, arranging flowers, lighting candles,” she says. “Now we take the minimalist approach. Basically, you want to strip the house to its bare essentials, depersonalize it, so potential buyers can superimpose themselves and their lifestyle on the house.” Rinomato offered these tips for staging a home: n Visit model homes and examine shelter magazines for inexpensive

decorating ideas. Always keep in mind you aren’t decorating for yourself but for the general public. n Start with the outside. Give the house a fresh coat of paint, add shiny hardware to the front door and plant a few flowers to send a subliminal message the house is loved and well cared for. n Declutter every room to make it look larger. Get rid of family pictures, trophies, knickknacks. Closets and drawers should be no more than 30 percent full. n Invest in eco-friendly but bright lights. Open the drapes or remove them completely. “Light, bright rooms give the impression this is a happy place — and everyone wants

to move into a happy place,” says Rinomato. n Feature only a few pieces of furniture with mainstream appeal. Pull pieces away from walls to make rooms look bigger. n Make sure a room’s primary use is obvious. A bedroom should look like a bedroom, not an office, hobby center or gym. n Bedrooms and kitchens are difficult to stage because they are in daily use, but make the effort. Clear everything off counters and nightstands, roll up the rugs and hide the laundry hamper. Buff the cabinets with car wax and clean
See TO SELL on PAGE 11

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

Steady growth forecast for Albuquerque market
By Melissa W. Sais
For the Journal

S

teady growth in Albuquerque area homes sales and moderate increases in new construction are expected by local observers to mark the housing market for 2010. February statistics from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors showed steady growth month over month and year over year in the area’s existing single-family detached home sales. Closed sales increased in February totaling 380, up 8.88 percent from January’s 349 and a 10.79 percent jump from last year’s 343 sales. The average number of days to sell a home was 82, a 14.58 percent drop from last year’s 96 average days on the market. “This is what we want to see — nice, steady growth,” says Mark Pando, president of the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. “We look to have steady growth this year and hope to get back to a normal market in 2011 and 2012.” Yearly home sales in the Albuquerque area peaked in 2005 with 12,943 homes sold. That number dropped to 9,866 in 2007, and by 2009 sales had plummeted to 7,145. Looking up for 2010, February’s pending sales bounced to 779, a 5.27 percent increase from January’s 740 pending sales. The jump represented

51 in February 2009. The Albuquerque area’s new listings in February of 1,349 dropped 5.93 percent from January’s number of 1,434. The new listings saw a year-over-year increase of 6.05 percent from February 2009, which posted 1,272 new listings.

Prices still down
Sale prices continued to decrease. The median sale price — the price at which half the homes sell for more and half for less — was $169,950 in February, compared with $172,240 in January and $184,900 a year earlier. The average, which can be skewed by the sale of a few homes at price extremes, was $206,654, up from $205,624 in January but down from $209,515 a year ago. “Right now is a great time for buyers entering the market,” Pando says. “Interest rates are at an alltime low and the deadline to get the housing tax credit is approaching.” The federal government’s Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit allows a credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers purchasing homes between Nov. 7, 2009, and April 30. Current homeowners selling a home they have used for a primary residence for five consecutive years of the past eight and purchasing a home until April 30 can qualify for a credit of up to $6,500.

JOURNAL FILE PHOTO

New home construction in 2010 is expected to increase 20 percent to 30 percent this year, according to Jim Folkman, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico.
a 46.98 percent increase compared to February 2009 when pending sales numbered 530. Rio Rancho made huge strides in pending sales and closed sales during February. The area’s pending sales jumped to 149, a 104.11 percent increase from last year’s figure of 73. Closed sales bounced 37.35 percent to 70, up from

“You’re getting more for your money right now, and the tax credit adds fuel to that fire,” Pando says. Total homes on the market hit 4,929 in February, up from 4,766 in January but down from 5,373 last year. Jim Folkman, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico, says he expects a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in new home construction in 2010. The number of singlefamily housing starts in the Albuquerque area in 2009 totaled 1,669, down from 1,874 in 2008. Housing starts have fallen steadily since 2005, when construction began on 8,815 new homes. “I think it’s going to be closer to 2,000 starts in 2010, which we can attribute to continued good interest rates, continued and increasing demand and the home buyer tax credit,” Folkman says. “And once the job market stabilizes, the housing market will get back to a more consistent level.” Folkman says that the need to offer competitively priced homes is driving construction to outlying areas like Albuquerque’s West Side, Los Lunas and Rio Rancho. “The cost of the land has got to be low enough to get the price down,” Folkman says. “The median home price is down and the average home price is down significantly, so that’s where the market is.”

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American Home Week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

9

Interest in universal design increases as population ages
Builders and remodelers attentive to ‘silver market’
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hose stairs you ran up so quickly when you were 40 years old can be depressingly steep at age 70. And then there’s the pain that wafts through your wrist and fingers every time you turn on the faucet or twist a doorknob. Maybe you should take up that offer to move in with your children. Then again, maybe not. Many seniors can “age in place,” experts say, provided they are willing to modify their homes to recognize and meet the physical challenges that can be associated with growing older. The earlier you think about making those changes, the better. “Word has gotten out to the boomers,” says James Joseph Pirkl, one of the millions of Americans born in the postWorld War II baby boom who are now ages 46 to 64. Pirkl, an internationally respected design consultant for the 50-plus market, calls it “an evolution,” one that is fueling greater interest in universal design, a method of remodeling or building homes to accommodate those who want to remain in their homes even as they develop age-related ailments. Builders, home remodelers and designers are paying attention, he says. The perceptions of

homeowners in their late 30s and 40s are shifting, too. The “silver market” explosion reflects the country’s changing demographics. In the late 1930s, there were fewer than 7 million older Americans. By 2004, more than 3.5 million baby boomers had turned 55, and by 2012, there will be more than 100 million Americans age 50 or older. Pirkl is a professor emeritus of industrial design and past chairman of the department of design at Syracuse University. He is executive director of Transgenerational Design Matters, an organization that works with builders, designers, academic institutions, and public and private agencies to create products and shape environments compatible with the physical and sensory impairments associated with growing old. Pirkl says he believes the design community “carries

a pivotal responsibility” in shaping the next generation of “human-centered design” in homes, products and the environment. “People are becoming more educated about home design,” says Warner McConaughey, whose Atlanta-based home remodeling company, HammerSmith, has won dozens of local, state, regional and national awards for design and renovation excellence. McConaughey says the Internet has fueled homeowner interest in building and remodeling with an eye on changing needs as they grow older. The master bedroom, he says, is one example of this sea change in thinking, its traditional second-floor placement fading in favor of a location on the first floor to eliminate the need to walk up a flight of stairs. Wider halls, better lighting, storage to eliminate clutter and multipurpose

rooms reflect the universal design theme that can make a home livable “at any stage of life,” McConaughey says. Not all seniors have the

option of redoing their homes or building anew. Moving in with family might be the only option for those whose
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

Reverse mortgages let seniors tap into home equity
By Valerie Lemke
Creators.com

G

iven today’s economic conditions, more and more seniors are finding themselves without sufficient funds for basic living expenses, according to Meg Burns, director of the Federal Housing Administration’s Single Family Program Development.

“Often when I talk to seniors, there are many who are mainly worried about future access to funds.”
MEG BURNS, OF THE FHA

who is also the manager of HECM, which administers and insures 95 percent of all reverse mortgages made today. “Often when I talk to seniors, there are many who are mainly worried about future access to funds. What if the car breaks down or the roof blows off? They are looking for peace of mind. It’s a great product for so many people.” It is also becoming increasingly popular. Since its development in 1987, the HECM program has provided financial security to some 500,000 seniors.

For some people, their home provides the money they need to retire.

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Starting the process
The first step in the process to obtain an FHA reverse mortgage is to contact a counselor in your area. Advice administered by a trained counselor is required. A document certifying you have received and understand the product is issued before you visit a lender to get the loan. You can contact a counselor and get a list of FHA-approved lenders in your area by calling 800569-4287 or going to https:// entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/ hecm_agency_look.cfm. You will receive a package from the National Council on Aging, including complete information about the product. The counseling appointment, which can be conducted by telephone or in

“Maybe they face immediate large medical expenses, or they don’t have sufficient funds to cover the increases in food, gasoline and utilities,” Burns says. Whatever the reasons, sometimes there are financial needs that cannot be met on fixed incomes. Enter the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, or HECM, FHA’s reverse mortgage program, which enables seniors to tap into their home equity to create additional income. Only available to individuals who are age 62 or older and who own their homes outright or have low mortgage balances, the program requires that borrowers live in the homes and pay real estate taxes, insurance and other payments, such as utilities. The loans are deferred until they no longer occupy the dwellings and then are repaid through the sale of the homes or from the estates. “If there are heirs who intend to keep the homes, they are obligated to pay off the liens,” Burns says. Is the reverse mortgage only for seniors in desperate financial need? “We say ‘no,’” says Burns,
24
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person, may cost $125. The lender will charge basic mortgage loan costs, including appraisal, pest inspection, title insurance, FHA mortgage insurance protection and county and state recordings, all of which can be paid from loan proceeds. Using a formula based on age and the interest rate of the loan, the reverse mortgage counselor and lender will calculate for you what you will receive. Several options also are available for receiving reverse mortgage payments. Depending on your needs and wishes, you may have

monthly payments sent to you as long as one borrower continues to occupy the property as a principal residence, or equal monthly payments may be selected for a fixed period of time. Another option is a line of credit. There are also packages that include a line of credit combined with monthly payments. Should the mortgage reversal process be a family affair? “We recommend that if seniors trust and are comfortable with their children and heirs, their

involvement is a positive addition to the process,” Burns says. “In fact, we are seeing more seniors enter the program at the urging of their children.” Finally, what if the loan is used inappropriately? “We do not mandate how the money is used,” Burns says. But even when it is spent in what some might feel is an unwise way or for a nonessential, there often is a positive outcome. “I hear people say, ‘I was able to visit children and grandchildren I haven’t seen in years, and it was wonderful,’” she says.

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American Home Week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

11

Home modifications can be useful for many age groups
from PAGE 9

Learn the lingo to better your buying experience
By Vicky Katz Whitaker
Creators.com

finances or health preclude remodeling, relocating to retirement communities or going to assisted-living centers. In some cases, increases in crime, neighborhood blight and lack of transportation are overriding factors.

B

uying a home can be a challenge, especially if you’re unfamiliar with real estate and finance industry jargon. Here are some terms to help get you started: n APR (annual percentage rate): the cost of a loan or other financing as an annual rate. n ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage): a mortgage with a floating interest rate — usually adjusted annually — based on and tied to a financial index. n “As is”: “What you see is what you get.” The seller makes no guarantees on the physical condition of the property and will not make repairs. n Assumable mortgage: a seller’s mortgage loan that can be taken over by the home buyer with no change in terms.

Don’t be hasty
If you’re a homeowner contemplating altering or retrofitting your home to accommodate a parent who must move in with you, don’t make hasty remodeling decisions, McConaughey warns, and pay attention to aesthetics. “There’s a sense that these things have to look ugly” and that you will take them off later, he says. Examples are a poorly designed wheelchair ramp or bathroom grab bar. Something as simple as changing a doorknob to a lever can be stylish, as well as effective, not only for an elderly parent but also for others in the family. “Retrofitting is not always about older people,” McConaughey points out, noting that a levered door can be opened more easily with an elbow if you’re carrying packages. Better lighting, storage to keep clutter out of the way, and rooms that have universal use can go far to bridge generational gaps.

creators.com

Well-lighted entryways and hallways, such as this one in a home by HammerSmith, are helpful to have in your house as you age.

n Clear title: property that is free of liens, defects and other legal encumbrances. n Closing costs: fees you will have to pay upfront at the “closing,” the date on which the sale of the property is finalized and a mortgage loan transaction is completed. They may include fees for a loan origination, a title search, an insurance survey, an attorney or other matters. n Condo (condominium): an individually owned unit in a multi-housing complex in which common areas such as sidewalks, stairs, clubhouses or greenbelts are jointly owned and maintained through monthly fees. n Deposit (or earnest money deposit): a token amount of money a potential buyer gives to the seller to show he or she is committed to buying the home. n PITI: an acronym (pronounced like the word “pity”) for the four primary components of a monthly mortgage payment: principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

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under the sinks. Invest in pristine white bed linens and towels. n Minimize the “pet effect.” Remove food bowls and litter boxes to the utility room. Deodorize thoroughly. n Organize the utility room and garage. Hang up the bicycles, roll up the hose. Renting a storage locker is worth the cost if it helps you sell faster and for a higher price. n Once your house is staged, invite your friends or real estate agent over and walk them through to get an objective opinion.

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12

Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Home Week

With planning, outdoor areas can be used year-round
from PAGE 4

And even though an outdoor kitchen may be self-sufficient with its own cooking, water and refrigeration sources, Madueña often includes passthrough doors and windows that connect it to the interior kitchen as well. Because the grill is often situated under a protective roof, a ventilation hood is included to move smoke out of the closed-in area. The seasonal use of the outdoor spaces can be extended and made more comfortable with the inclusion of ceiling fans under the portals, portable heaters next to the lounge chairs, and even colorful roll-down awnings to block the sun’s angles or the wind. “Give some forethought to the winter season,” advises Madueña. “We always wrap the pipes in heat tape and provide water shut-off valves so nothing freezes.” Likewise, when designing an outdoor kitchen, some materials are better than others.

Many houses built by JG Madueña Homes have not only covered outdoor kitchen and dining spaces but also patio extensions that allow people to gather around an outdoor fireplace or fire pit.
courtesy JG Madueña HoMes

Best-sellers at Patio and Hearth Co. in Albuquerque are outdoor furniture and propane or natural gaspowered fire pits, according to owner Cindy Esch, an

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“Appliances typically have stainless-steel finishes and are manufactured to work in an outdoor environment all yearround,” says Reynolds. “Counter surfaces run the gamut from sealed colored concrete to tile, granite and stainless steel. Often we bring in design accents

used elsewhere in the home such as stone slabs and hand-laid stacked stone. “Floor surfaces tend to follow the design trend of the home ranging from brick floors in a traditional pueblo design to polished concrete in a contemporary or modern designed home.”

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Learn about green building on June tour
Journal Staff Report

A week in June will provide a few opportunities for New Mexicans to learn how sustainable homes are built and why they’re good for the environment, says the state chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. The group is putting on Sustainability Week and hosting a series of “green” education events, including the GreenBuilt Tour, according to a news release. The 11th annual GreenBuilt Tour will take place June 12 and 13, while a commercial green building tour will be held June 16 and the Green Central Expo and Green Living Series is slated for June 19. The GreenBuilt Tour will feature 20 to 25 homes “that have been certified under Build Green New Mexico or the LEED for Homes rating system,” the news release

says. The tour costs $1 per home visited. The Green Central Expo will be a free event featuring businesses with green products and services and professional organizations. It will be held at the National

Hispanic Cultural Center’s Pete Domenici Education Center simultaneously with a Green Living Lecture Series, the news release says. Information can be found at usgbcnm.org.

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