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Has the farm lost its charm?

By Compiled by TERESA BURNEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


More Americans are returning to major metropolitan areas for the first time in seven years.

About 70,000 more people migrated out of rural areas between 1998 and 1999 than moved in, according to the U.S. Census report. That doesn't mean they are moving to the heart of the big city though.

They are leaving small towns and rural communities for the suburbs of bigger cities, the bureau reports. The Census Bureau credits the strong economy for the migration. During bad times people flee to less expensive rural areas; they move back to pricier cities during economic booms.

Will they pack up and move back next year?

Economists for the National Association of Realtors predict the home-buying frenzy will begin to calm by the end of the year.

Sales of new homes are expected to fall 6.5 percent this year, and sales of existing homes are expected to fall 9.3 percent. Of course, that still would make 2000 the third highest sales year ever for existing homes.

The association expects mortgage interest rates will rise slightly to about 8.6 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and about 7.2 percent for a one-year, adjustable-rate mortgage.

The good news is that the association's economists think home-price increases will slow, rising 2.9 percent for existing homes to a median price of $136,800 and 4.3 percent for new homes to a median price of $166,300.

Homebuyer U

Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services is offering "Fast Track to Home Ownership" from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Citizens Alliance for Progress, 401 E Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Tarpon Springs. The classes will include information and points of concern for first-time home buyers. Those who complete the training will receive a certificate that could help reduce down payment and closing costs. Call 442-4155to register.

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The Tampa Bay Community Development Corp. is offering a free home-buying seminar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Ross Norton Community Center, 1426 S Greenwood Ave., Clearwater. Call (727) 442-7075 to register for the Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved seminar.

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Thinking about buying a house but need to learn the basics? The Community Service Foundation offers free classes designed to help first-time home buyers through the process. A series of classes will be offered from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 at the Greater Clearwater Association of Realtors, 1545 S Belcher Road. To register, call (727) 461-0618.

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The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Florida Suncoast will offer a free two-session home buyer seminar from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 and 17 at Alice Hall Community Center, 3811 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills. Call (800) 547-0099, ext. 2507. Those who attend both sessions will receive a certificate that will qualify them for closing cost reductions on FHA loans.

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The Pinellas Housing Agency can tell first-time home buyers whether they qualify for down payment assistance programs. Call (727) 467-9494.

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General Home Development offers free seminars on how to buy an affordable new home with less than perfect credit and a low down payment from 11 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 4600 Fifth Ave. S, St. Petersburg. For information, call (727) 321-8719.

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Affordable Mortgage Lending is offering two free classes on FHA's new lease/purchase program at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. today at Best Western, 20162 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater.

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First Worldwide Mortgage Corp. offers free seminars on how to avoid home-buying pitfalls from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 6450 Seminole Blvd., Seminole. Call (727) 398-7781 for information.

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North American Mortgage Co. offers free workshops on mortgage loans at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at its Clearwater office, 2963 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Suite 325. Attendees can get prequalified for government bond money and the FHA's 1 percent down payment program. For information and reservations, call Christine Dallape at (727) 712-3305, ext. 14.

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A workshop covering prequalifying for a mortgage, choosing a real estate agent, evaluating credit and understanding the basics of obtaining financing is offered by Allstate Mortgage & Loan from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays at 25400 U.S. 19 N, Suite 263, Clearwater. For information, call (800) 701-1186.

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Owners Equity Mortgage Corp. offers free workshops and seminars for applicants with down payment and credit problems from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. weekdays at 101 E Tarpon Ave., Tarpon Springs. The classes, which are geared toward first-time home buyers with low to moderate incomes, will cover all phases of home buying. For information, call (727) 942-6406 or (727) 938-6583.

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American Home Mortgage and First American Title offer "How to Buy Your First Home," which includes information on credit reports, qualifying for a mortgage and down payment assistance. Sessions are from 7 to 8 p.m. the second and last Tuesdays of each month. Call (727) 446-2911 for reservations and locations in St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

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Free workshops, presented by Buccaneer Mortgage and Brophy Real Estate in St. Petersburg and Seminole, are offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the first and last Tuesdays of each month. For information or reservations, call (727) 898-2827 or (727) 522-6666.

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A free workshop especially for those with down-payment and credit problems is offered from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays. The workshop is sponsored by AGA Mortgage Service and Realty Associates at its office at 11350 66th St. N, Suite 104, Largo. For information and reservations, call Mary Ann at (727) 541-3390 or Joe at (727) 531-1502.

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Send items to Real Estate, c/o Teresa Burney, the Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Deadline is 10 days before publication.

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