USDA no-down-payment financing for people looking to buy homes in the Birmingham area will continue to be available after September 30th, despite earlier reports from the Agency that the popular loan program would wind down permanently at the end of the month.
How long will USDA financing remain in effect? Not even the government—which administers the program—is saying.
The loan program will “continue for some period,” according to Rich Davis, acting Administrator for USDA’s Rural Housing Service.
Many Buyers were concerned that loss of the program would reduce their chances of being able to buy a home in places in Shelby Co. including Chelsea and Calera, areas the government considers rural, and therefore eligible for USDA financing.
In the meantime, a new 100% conventional loan program has been introduced, and which would be a back-up for some Buyers who had wanted to purchase with USDA financing.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, figuring out what loan is best for your particular situation—whether it’s USDA or something else—can get confusing.
Your best bet is to contact a Lender knowledgeable in the many loan programs that are available in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area before you buy.
If you’re thinking of buying a home in several areas near Birmingham using 100% loan financing through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you’ll have to go a different route.
Effective October 1st, homes in Chelsea, Calera, Moody and Pleasant Grove—areas that have been eligible for USDA’s no-down-payment funding—will no longer qualify.
Current loans that are already in USDA’s processing system as of October 1st will be honored.
The removal of these areas comes as a result of a decision that these communities are no longer considered rural.
USDA’s loan program has been very popular…Colleen and I have helped many first time Buyers over the years with purchasing a home using this financing.
This does not necessarily mean that you’re out of options if you’re trying to get a 100% financed loan for a home in these areas.
A new 100% conventional loan program has just been announced that may be a suitable alternative.
Offered by several area Lenders, the new loan program is currently available at a fixed rate of 4.75% to Buyers who qualify, and has reduced mortgage insurance. And, unlike USDA loans, this new loan is not restricted by area.
Here are a few Lenders in the area you can contact for more information:
First Federal Mortgage
Home Mortgage of America, Inc.
If you want to buy a home in Birmingham’s Chelsea or Calera area using USDA no-down-payment financing, you may be wise to buy sooner, rather than later.
March 27th is the deadline by which earlier reports indicated that USDA would be dropping those areas from its list of eligibility.
But Gloria Jackson, a Lender with First Federal Mortgage in Birmingham who has spoken with USDA, says exactly what will happen by the end of the month remains unclear:
You can reach Gloria by calling 205-965-2167. Click here for her website and e-mail link…
Good news if you’re looking to buy a home in several areas close to Birmingham…
The U.S. Dep’t. of Agriculture has just announced that a previously planned October 1st change which would have meant the end of federal mortgage funding for two areas in Shelby Co. has been put on hold until late March of 2013.
More than 90 communities nationwide—including Pleasant Grove in Jefferson Co. and areas in Walker and St. Clair counties—had been targeted to lose their eligibility, effective October 1st. Yesterday, however, Dallas Tonsager, USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development, issued a notice saying the changes would not take effect next week.
USDA loans are popular with many Buyers because they do not require down payments. They are available, however, only in areas USDA specifically designates.
As it stands now, the changes will take effect March 27, 2013 … unless USDA or Congress takes action in the meantime.
If you’re thinking of buying a home in Shelby County’s Calera or Chelsea area and are planning on financing your purchase with a no-down-payment USDA loan, you better get moving with your purchase, because time may be about to run out.
As of October first, the USDA is expected to update the areas that qualify for its loans. For Shelby Co., this means that Calera—which has long been a popular spot for home Buyers using USDA financing—will be dropped from the eligibility list. Chelsea is also set to be dropped.
In Walker Co., Jasper will be dropped from USDA loan eligibility, as will Moody and Pell City in St. Clair Co., and Pleasant Grove in Jefferson Co.
In all, more than 90 communities will be removed from the list of qualifying areas.
The change in qualifying areas is not a 100% sure thing. At least one U.S. Congressman—Republican Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska—is pushing to get Congress to order a one year extension of USDA’s existing eligibility zones. Others pushing USDA to grant an extension include the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders and the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Why does USDA plan to change the zones? The answer lies partly with the 2010 Census. An existing grandfathering clause allowed any community considered ‘rural’ in 1990 to continue to be eligible for USDA funding until the 2010 Census, as long as it has a population below 25,000 and met other critera. That clause, which was first enacted in 1990 and extended in 2000, is now set to expire.
So, unless Congress takes action, many communities that currently qualify for USDA financing will lose their eligibility—and for many of those areas, USDA loans are the only source of federal housing funding.
I asked a group of Realtors who sell homes in the Birmingham and Shelby Co. area recently what their thoughts are of 2009, now that it’s ‘in the rear view mirror.’
While a few Agents reported a strong year last year, most told me they weren’t sad to see ’09 become history.
We hear conflicting information in the media a lot these days about home sales, and this can even happen when you’re looking at sales in a small, targeted area.
Here are a few statistics from the Birmingham MLS that show trends in 2009, compared to 2007 and 2008. Clearly, the local market was a difficult one for many:
Here’s a look at average sold prices for homes in the area:
And, finally, how long did it take to get a home sold? Here’s a look at that:
While these numbers show a challenging market, people with a lot of years in the real estate business under their belt continue to believe that the market will undergo a gradual change, back to more balanced conditions.
No one knows exactly when that will happen, or how quickly it will occur, but most are confident it will. Some think it’s already starting.
Perhaps 2010 will be the year…
Getting your home sold in Shelby County is taking longer in some communities and less time in others, while prices have dropped, according to October statistics from the Birmingham Multiple Listing System.
The average number of days on market increased in Alabaster and Chelsea, but fell in Helena, Pelham and Calera:
Prices continued a downward trend in October, and substantially so, compared to September:
How many homes are selling?
Except for Calera, the number of homes sold in October dropped from September. Chelsea saw the sharpest one month drop, while more homes sold in Calera during October than in September:
Why the uptick in Calera?
Perhaps it’s the large inventory of low cost housing (both new and resale), making for some very attractive deals for first time home buyers, along with the fact that Calera qualifies for USDA financing (which means loans with no down payment required).
I think these statistics are giving us some important messages.
If you’re planning on buying a home, the market is continuing to work very much in your favor in the Birmingham and Shelby County area. Prices have dropped, inventory is in plentiful supply, and loans continue to be very affordable.
If you’re trying to sell, the message these numbers present is that it’s going to take a lot more than just putting a For Sale sign in the yard.
Marketing plays a more critical role than ever, and must be done in innovative ways if your home is to stand out among all the other properties for sale.
Pricing is no less important and will be a huge deciding factor in how quickly you sell, or if you sell, at all (believe me, we have seen examples of both!).
You may also benefit from an informed assessment of your property’s appearance and condition. With so many homes for sale right now, if your property doesn’t sparkle, Buyers will simply move on to another.
These are some very good reasons for trusting the sale of your home to an Agent who’s knowledgeable about the market here in the Shelby Co./Birmingham area and who knows how to achieve success in spite of challenging economic conditions.
How much does it cost to buy a home in the Birmingham/Shelby Co. area?Â Here are a few numbers that really show the variety of inventory and pricing currently available.Â Remember that these are asking, and not sold, prices:
Homes For Sale:Â 370
Under $150,000:Â 125
Helena/Pelham (Shelby Co.)
Homes For Sale:Â 502
Under $150,000:Â Â 148
No. Shelby Co./Hoover
Homes For Sale:Â 725
Under $150,000:Â 30
Homes For Sale:Â Â 287
Under $150,000:Â Â 23
Homes For Sale:Â 334
Under $150,000:Â 203
$150,000-$199,999:Â Â 77
Source:Â Birmingham Multiple Listing System
Here’s a look at how homes have been selling in the Shelby Co./Birmingham area during the past few months, courtesy of the Birmingham MLS:
Hereâ€™s a look at current inventory for the Shelby County and Birmingham areas, as indicated by the Birmingham Multiple Listing Service. To help you with an idea of trends, the numbers in parentheses show the count as of March 9th, 2009 (one month ago today):
Single family, town homes and condominiums available:
Helena & Pelham area (Shelby Co.): 519 (521)
Helena & Pelham area (Jefferson Co.): 59 (58)
North Shelby/Hoover area (Shelby Co.): 739 (701)
Chelsea: 298 (324)
Altadena/Cahaba Heights area: 67 (62)
Liberty Park/Vestavia area: 492 (446)
Alabaster, Maylene & Saginaw area: 373 (372)
Calera, Montevallo & Wilton area: 360 (356)
Columbiana, Westover & Wilsonville area: 93 (89)
Number of homes for sale based on current selling price:
Alabaster, Maylene and Saginaw area:
$150,000-$200,000: 132 (131)
$200,000-$300,000: 90 (86)
Helena and Pelham areas (Shelby Co.):
$150,000-$200,000: 169 (166)
$200,000-$300,000: 127 (124)
Helena and Pelham areas (Jefferson Co.):
$150,000-$200,000: 2 (2)
$200,000-$300,000: 22 (21)
$150,000-$200,000: 82 (99)
$200,000-$300,000: 118 (120)