Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Google Maps Expands Real Estate Info

Google has been improving the usability of real estate information in its Google Maps function.

Users can now select the “real estate” option from the “more” button on the top right of any Google Map. They’ll automatically see balloons on the maps of listings, as well as a pop-up real estate refinement panel on the left.

From there, they can refine what they are searching for by checking the boxes for renting or buying, apartment or house, as well as price range, square footage, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, and foreclosure listings. Google is also inviting real estate practitioners to list homes on Google Maps.

Source: eWeek, Clint Boulton (10/30/2009)
New Rules to Clarify Fees

New regulations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will require that closing costs be spelled out on a revised and consumer-friendly version of the good-faith estimate form that borrowers are supposed to receive within three days of applying for a mortgage.

These rules will take effect Jan. 1, 2010.Fees are divided into three categories:

  • Fees that cannot increase from upfront estimates to closing, including lender or broker's mortgage origination, processing, and underwriting charges, as well as lender or broker’s “points” based on the interest rate quoted and local transfer taxes.

  • Fees that can increase as much as 10 percent from upfront estimates, including services such as appraisals, title insurance, and recording fees from local governments.

  • Fees that can increase without limit because the amount is difficult to predict in advance, including home owners insurance, daily interest charges on the loan, and initial deposits by the borrower into an escrow account.
The new HUD-1 form will allow the borrower to easily compare what they were told the settlement fees will be with what they actually are at closing.

Source: The Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (11/06/2009)