First-Time Homebuyers May Be Eligible for US Loans

Thousands of first-time homebuyers will be able to get short-term loans so they can quickly make use of a new $8,000 tax credit to pay for some of the costs of buying a home purchase.

The Federal Housing Administration on Friday released details of a plan in which borrowers who use FHA loans can get advances from lenders that let them effectively receive the credit in advance, so they don’t have to wait to get the money from the IRS.

Most borrowers will still have to come up with the FHA’s required 3.5 percent down payment, unless they work through a state or local housing agency or an approved nonprofit. But there are many other potential uses, such as for closing costs and fees, or to beef up the down payment beyond the minimum level.

The FHA which insures about a quarter of new home loans, is projected to guarantee about 2.2 million loans in the next budget year.

Any buyer who has not owned a home in the past three years is considered a first-time buyer and eligible for the program. Borrowers can claim the credit by filing an amended 2008 tax return or can wait for their 2009 return.

The change “will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing,” Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

The tax credit was included in the economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama in February. It is not available to individuals with incomes above $95,000 or couples with incomes above $170,000 and expires Nov. 30.

Real estate agents and homebuilders generally welcomed the change. Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, called it a “great step in the right direction.” On Wall Street, shares of builders as Toll Brothers [  Loading…      ()   ] and D.R. Horton [  Loading…      ()   ] rose on the news.

Still, some real estate agents were concerned that many buyers won’t benefit at all if can’t use it for a down payment — a big hurdle for many first-time buyers.


Rates On 30 Year Mortgages Fall Near Record Low

U.S. mortgage rates fell in the latest week, trekking closer to a record low set last month. Interest rates on U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.82 percent for the week ending May 21, down from the previous week’s 4.86 percent, according to a survey released on Thursday by home funding company Freddie Mac. [FRE  0.78    -0.02  (-2.5%)   ] Continue reading

Wilmington: Coastal Dream Town

Wilmington has been named as one of eighteen coastal dream towns. In Coastal Living Magazine’s May issue of Best Places to Live in the Region for Every Budget, the Port City came in 18th.

Allure factors include a revitalized downtown, Riverwalk, and a lively performing arts scene.

The region’s film industry also received a big nod with film festivals and Screen Gem Studios’ new soundstage that’s in the works.

Area chefs compete for state’s best dish

A total of 19 restaurants have been selected to compete this summer for best dish in North Carolina and two of them are right here in the Cape Fear region.

Catch Modern Seafood is located in downtown Wilmington. They serve lunch and dinner. The menu is eclectic. The atmosphere is quaint and fresh, just like the locally caught seafood.

Keith Rhodes is the chef and owner. He’s won first place for best dish in the state before. “I’m back again. That really means a lot when we have so many talented chefs in North Carolina.”

Chef Keith said food is not the only drawing card his restaurant offers. “There are so many things that round out the whole experience, such as service and ambience and things like that. There are a combination of factors that keep people coming back.”

We got to see him in action today. “Right now I’m cooking one of our signature items. It’s sticky rice with North Carolina shrimp and jumbo crab meat.”

Catch modern seafood will be expanding next month with a new location on Market Street in Ogden. Continue reading

P3 Hurricane Hunter comes to Wilmington

Though not quite hurricane season, hurricane awareness is coming to the Port City in a big way.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s P3 Orion Hurricane Hunter flies into the heart of hurricanes, gathering information to help meteorologists predict where a storm might be headed.

The plane will be at Wilmington International Airport Thursday along with other exhibits. You can stop by and see it from 3:00 until 5:00 p.m.

Local business can look forward to more cruise ships in Wilmington

Local businesses will get another boost, with four cruise ships docking in Wilmington. Three American Cruise Line ships will arrive in May; the first on Sunday. A fourth ship from American Canadian Caribbean Line will arrive in June.

These small luxury cruise ships carry around one-hundred passengers and will dock along downtown Wilmington’s riverfront near the visitor information booth.

A cruise line study estimates that each passenger spends an average of $123 per US port-of-call visit.

Wilmington Letter Carriers to help Stamp Out Hunger on May 9

On Saturday, May 9, Wilmington letter carriers will again help Stamp Out Hunger! across America with your help in order to provide assistance to the one in eight Americans who struggle with hunger.

The Stamp Out Hunger! effort is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, having collected more than 909 million pounds of food since its inception in 1993. Last year, letter carriers across the country collected a record total of more than 73.1 million pounds of food, but with hunger impacting many Americans– including working families, children and the elderly – help is needed now more than ever before. Continue reading

Market Conditions

The latest report from the National Association of Realtors reports that pending home sales rose 3.2 percent in March.

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said the increase in buying power is quite remarkable. “Compared to a year ago, the typical family can pay much less in mortgage costs for the same home, or buy a better home without necessarily increasing their monthly payment,” he said. “For buyers who’ve been on the sidelines and have good jobs, the market has never looked more favorable. Homeownership has always offered immediate benefits and long-term value, but the advantages in today’s market are unique.”

Regionally, the South saw the best outcome in pending home sales, rising 8.5 percent.

The biggest decrease was seen in the Northeast, dropping 5.7 percent.