Archives for March 2015

Understanding the Key Factors That Affect Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Understanding the Key Factors That Affect Your Mortgage Interest RateWhen you initially start shopping for a home mortgage, you may be drawn to advertisements for ultra-low interest rates. These may be rates that seem too good to be true, and you may gladly contact the lender or mortgage company to complete your loan application. However, the unfortunate truth is that all too often, mortgage applicants are unpleasantly surprised and even disheartened to learn that they do not qualify for the advertised interest rate. By learning more about the factors that influence your interest rate, you may be able to structure you loan in a more advantageous way.

Your Credit Rating

One of the most important factors that influence an interest rate is your credit score. Lenders have different credit score requirements, but most have a tiered rating system. Those with excellent credit scores qualify for the best interest rate, and good credit scores may qualify for a slightly higher interest rate. Because of this, you may consider learning more about your credit score and taking time to correct any errors that may be resulting in a lower score.

The Amount Of Your Down Payment

In addition, the amount of your down payment will also play a role in your interest rate. The desired down payment may vary from lender to lender, but as a rule of thumb, the best home mortgage interest rates are given to those who have at least 20 to 30 percent of funds available to put down on the property, and this does not include subordinate or secondary financing. If you are applying for a higher loan-to-value loan, you may expect a higher interest rate.

The Total Loan Amount Requested

In addition, the total loan amount will also influence the rate. There are different loan programs available, but one of the biggest differences in residential loans is for very large loan amounts. The qualification for a jumbo loan will vary for different markets, but these loans qualify for different rates than conventional loans with a smaller loan amount.

While you may be able to use advertised interest rates to get a fair idea about the rate you may qualify for, the only real way to determine your mortgage rate will be to apply for a loan and to get pre-qualified. You can contact a mortgage lender today to request more information about today’s rates and to begin your pre-qualification process.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 16, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 16 2015Last week’s economic reports included job openings, retail sales, retail sales except automotive, consumer sentiment for March and the usual reports on weekly jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Job Openings Highest in 14 Years

The Labor Department reported that job openings reached their highest level in 14 years in January, and rose by 2.50 percent over December 2014 job openings. On a seasonally adjusted basis, there were five million job openings in January. Job openings rose by 28 percent year-over-year.

Hiring rose by 3.50 percent to 5.24 million, but analysts said that employers continue to have difficulty in finding workers with skills needed to fill their job openings. Winter weather was also mentioned as contributing to lower hiring rates.

Stable full-time employment is a key requirement for qualifying for a home loan. Inconsistent, part-time and self-employment typically make it more difficult to qualify for mortgages in today’s conservative lending environment.

Retail Sales Lower

Retail sales fell by –0.60 percent in February against an expected reading of +0.30 percent and January’s reading of -0.80 percent. This was the third consecutive drop in retail sales volume and suggests that consumers are not confident about spending. Retail sales except automotive were also lower with a February reading of -0.10 percent against an expected reading of +0.40 percent and January’s reading of -1.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

According to Freddie Mac average mortgage rates rose across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.86 percent, an increase of 11 basis points. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.10 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.01 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 389,000 against expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 325,000 new claims filed. This was good news after a spike in new jobless claims that was likely caused by bad weather. Although week to week data tends to be more volatile than month-to-month trends, there was good news in that new jobless claims fell below a benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed. Readings of 300,000 or fewer new jobless claims filed represent strong labor market conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits and the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to present a press conference, which analysts will watch closely for any indication of when the Fed will raise interest rates.

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It’s Time to Upgrade

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It's Time to Upgrade Your home is your castle, your own little piece of the American dream. But lately, your little corner of the world has been feeling cramped and you find yourself eyeing those larger homes. Is it time to pull up stakes and move on from your starter home?

Growing Family

If you’ve added to your family in recent years, you may have more bodies than bedrooms. A two-bedroom home may have been a great idea when it was just you and your spouse, but with two kids, you’re starting to have turf wars over the play area.

Overflowing With Stuff

From an overflowing toy chest to closets packed so tightly with shoes and coats you risk an avalanche every time you open the door, your home just doesn’t have the space to keep all your things. You may have even had to move some things off-site, spending money to rent storage space to keep that antique dresser your grandmother left you or the set of state spoons you carefully collected during your college years.

No Rest For The Weary

You’d love to spend an afternoon soaking in the tub, but before the warmth of the water can take you away, there’s a banging on the door of the only bathroom in the house and a chorus of “hurry up” invading your quiet time. And the man cave you dreamed of? Those visions of a big screen television were shattered by the realization you needed somewhere for the kids to sleep.

No Room For Extras

When you first moved in, the two-car garage doubled as your woodworking shop. Now, the equipment has been sent to storage to make room for the family’s second car. You’d love to take up organic gardening, but your tiny yard barely has room for a grill and a lawn chair. You’d love to host your friends visiting from out of state, but there is hardly room for their luggage, much less them.

Changes In Career

You may have opted for a starter home when you first entered the market because you had a smaller income. Now, thanks to changes in careers or promotions at work, you can afford a home with greater square footage and room for your growing family that will provide the space you need for many years of happy memories.

Home prices across the country are starting to rise. Contact your trusted mortgage advisor today to see what you can quilafy for to take advantage of the opportunity to give your family the most space at the best price now.

The Mortgage Pre-approval Letter: Why It’s Important and How to Get One

The Mortgage Pre-approval Letter: Why It's Important and How to Get One If you are thinking about buying a new home in the near future, you may already be searching online to get a feel for the different types of homes available in the local area. You may have reviewed your budget, and you may have a fair idea about a sales price that is comfortable for you to afford.

While you may feel as though you have taken the preliminary steps necessary to prepare yourself to buy a home, it is important that you also get a mortgage pre-approval letter for your financing before you starting hunting for that perfect new house or condo.

The Importance of a Pre-Approval Letter

A mortgage pre-approval letter is issued to a loan applicant after he or she has passed through a preliminary credit review process. Most of these letters state that the individual is pre-qualified for a property with a maximum sales price, and it is contingent on the loan applicant providing supporting documentation, such as tax returns and bank statements.

This letter gives you a better idea about what it will take for you to get final loan approval and what loan amount you may qualify for. The letter is also provided to a seller, and it gives the seller the confidence that comes with knowing that you are a qualified buyer. When a seller has an offer from a buyer with a letter and another offer from one without a letter, there is a good chance that the seller will opt for a buyer who is already pre-qualified for financing.

How to Get Your Pre-Approval Letter

As you can see, there are several reasons why it is important to get pre-qualified for your mortgage financing. Getting a pre-approval is generally a straightforward process, but it can seem intimidating. You will need to complete a loan application, and this may be done in person or online with a lender or mortgage company. You will also need to sign an authorization for the lender to pull your credit report. After taking these steps, you typically will be able to receive a pre-approval letter within a day or two.

When you have plans to purchase a new home, you likely will need to apply for financing in order to complete your plans. Getting a pre-approval letter up-front can help you in a number of ways, and you can easily take the steps necessary to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Simply contact a mortgage company or lender today to get started with the process.

Taking an Extended Vacation? Renting Your Home to Long-Term Tenants is a Great Option

Taking an Extended Vacation? Renting Your Home to Long-term Tenants is a Great OptionTaking an extended vacation can seem like a dream come true. You may have plans to spend your summer in Europe, your winter in the Caribbean or even a full year or longer exploring a different region. If you have the luxury of taking an extended vacation, you may have your sights set on adventure and relaxation.

However, you also need to consider the practicality of leaving behind your home and belongings for an extended period of time. A great idea is to take on a long-term tenant for your home, and there are a number of benefits that you can enjoy by doing this.

Generate Income From Your Home

When you lease your home to a long-term tenant, you will be able to generate a monthly income from the property. This can be used to pay for your mortgage, property insurance and other related expenses while you are gone. Essentially, it can make it more affordable for you to take your trip for an extended period of time.

Decrease Your Maintenance Expenses

When you are away from your home, you may still have maintenance and upkeep chores to do. When you are home, for example, you may easily be able to water your lawn and mow the grass on your own. You may deal with a leaky pipe before it becomes problematic and causes considerable damage to the home. When you are gone, you may need to pay for a lawn service, and you have nobody to watch over the interior of the home. However, when you lease your home to a tenant, the tenant may be responsible for caring for the yard. In addition, he or she can alert you to issues that develop inside the home.

Someone to Keep an Eye on Your Property

When a home appears to be vacant, it is more likely to be vandalized or burglarized. A tenant will give your home an occupied look and will decrease the risk of criminal activity. In addition, the tenant may change your air filters, replace batteries in the smoke detectors and take other steps to keep the home in great condition for you while you are gone. You can specify your requirements in the lease.

If you are planning an extended vacation and you are looking for a convenient way to ensure that your home is taken care of while you are gone, consider the benefits of taking on a long term tenant.

Missed a Mortgage Payment? How to Ensure It Doesn’t Affect Your Credit Score

Missed a Mortgage Payment? How to Ensure It Doesn't Affect Your Credit ScoreIf you pay attention to your credit rating, you may be well aware that a single late payment reflected on your credit report can result in a decline in your scores.

In some cases, the decline can be rather significant, and you will have to work hard to make regular payments over a period of time to show that you remain creditworthy and to rebuild your credit score.

It is far better to avoid late payments altogether than to deal with the stress and ramifications of a late payment on your credit report. If you have already missed the due date on your mortgage loan, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent this late payment from showing up on your credit report.

Contact Your Mortgage Company Immediately

Initially, contact your mortgage company to make payment arrangements and to discuss the situation. In some cases, a mortgage company may be willing to work with you on structuring a new arrangement for the payment to be made or you may even have a surplus in your escrow account that could be applied toward the payment.

You can also determine when they will report your late payment to the credit bureaus and how much time you have before you absolutely need to make the payment to avoid credit ramifications.

Make Your Payment Before The Next One Is Due

Generally, lenders will report late payments when they are more than 30 days late. While you may be assessed a late fee after the initial grace period has expired, you may not have technical late payment in terms of what credit reporting bureaus consider to be late. Generally, if you make your payment before the next mortgage payment is due, your late payment will not show up as a late payment with the bureaus. However, you do want to verify this with your mortgage company and work with them to bring your account current.

A late payment on a mortgage can have a substantial and negative impact on your credit rating, and it can take months or even years to restore your scores to their previous level. Rather than go through the effort to try to improve your score after the fact, it is best to avoid the late payment altogether. While you may have already missed a payment and may be required to pay a late fee, it may not be too late to avoid having this event reflected on your credit report.

Contact your lender today to learn more about your options and to make your payment.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 9, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 9 2015Last week’s economic news was light on housing related reports, but several employment reports were released along with the national unemployment rate, which dipped to 5.50 percent. This was a full point below the Federal Reserve’s original target rate of 6.50 percent. Construction spending was incrementally lower than expected and mortgage rates also fell.

Fewer Private-Sector Jobs, Non-Farm Payrolls Increase

The ADP employment report for February fell from January’s reading of 250,000 jobs to 212,000 private-sector jobs. January’s reading was upwardly revised from the original tally of 213,000 jobs added. News was better for Non-Farm Payrolls for February. The Labor Department reported that 295,000 jobs were added; analysts expected a reading of 238,000 new jobs based on January’s original reading of 257,000 jobs added, but January’s reading was revised to 239,000 jobs added. The Non-Farm Payrolls report includes both public and private-sector jobs.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 320,000 against expectations of 301,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 313,000 new jobless claims. The week-to-week jobless claims report is considered volatile; most analysts base forecasts on a four-week rolling average.

National unemployment decreased from 5.70 percent in January to 5.50 percent in February as compared to an expected reading of 5.60 percent. February’s reading was the lowest since May 2008. Construction added 29,000 in February, which could indicate a boost in home construction. The unemployment rate does not account for 17.50 million workers who work part-time but want full-time work and those who have left the job market. The labor market participation rate fell to 62.8 percent, which was its lowest since the late 1970s.

Analysts said that based on the lower unemployment rate, the Fed may move as soon as June to raise the target federal funds rate to prevent rapid inflation, but Federal Reserve policy makers have consistently cited concerns over labor markets as a reason why the fed funds rate hasn’t been raised. A combination of stagnant wages, higher mortgage rates combined with stubbornly strict mortgage credit requirements could cause housing markets to lag behind other economic sectors until would-be home buyers achieve steady employment and can qualify for home financing.

Mortgage Rates Drop

Freddie Mac provided good news as average mortgage rates dropped.  Last week’s rate for a 30-year mortgage was 3.75 percent and lower by five basis points; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.03 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes reports on job openings and labor market conditions along with retail sales reports. Consumer sentiment will be release and Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims data will be released as usual on Thursday.

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersWhen preparing to list your home for sale, you may be wondering who will buy your home. While this initial thought may be one spurred by curiosity, the fact is that understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for in a home may help you to position your home to sell more quickly and for a better price.

If you have determined that there are many younger buyers moving into your area, you may want to make a few changes that will add appeal to this target audience. While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.

Add Color to Molding and Trim

One of the hottest trends in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas.

Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.

Update Light Fixtures

If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes.

When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to young buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.

Redefine Outdated Spaces

In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind.

Today’s younger buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.

This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. This is just one of several options available that may give your home broader appeal to a younger audience shopping for a modern floor plan.

If you are thinking about renovating your home and you believe that you will likely attract younger buyers to your area, you can consider implementing some of these ideas in your space. 

Buying for the First Time? The Ultimate Guide to Surviving the Mortgage Process

Buying for the First Time? The Ultimate Guide to Surviving the Mortgage ProcessIf you have heard nightmarish stories from friends and family members about the home mortgage application process, you are not alone. In fact, some of these stories may have even been a reason why you have held out on moving forward with your plans to purchase your first-home. While some have indeed had unpleasant experiences, the fact is that there is nothing to be intimidated about. When you follow a few easy tips, you can streamline the process and navigate through it with minimal effort or stress.

Find The Right Mortgage Professional To Work With

One of the best steps that you can take when applying for a mortgage is to choose a friendly, knowledgeable and experienced mortgage professional. Do not be afraid to ask the loan officer how long he or she has been working in the field and with the current company. They want your business, and they should be more than willing to answer your questions. More than that, pay attention to how easy it is to get ahold of them and how quickly they respond to your questions and concerns. If you cannot get a fast response up-front, you likely will not get one when you are in the middle of the loan process.

Ask Questions As Needed

As a first-time mortgage applicant, it is important that you understand as much as possible about your application and your mortgage. If you have any questions about closing costs, payment adjustments, the general loan process, how to verify your earnest money deposit or anything else, you should ask. A friendly mortgage professional will be more than willing to answer all of your questions as needed to ensure that you are a confident and informed borrower. You never should worry about a matter, and you simply have to ask the questions to get the answers you need.

Respond To Inquiries For Information Promptly

During the loan process, your lender will ask you for specific items. This may be your signature on their loan documents, a loan application, tax returns, pay stubs and other related financial documentation. The loan process may be on hold until you respond to those requests for information. Keep in mind that the loan process and underwriter will need to review the items, and some items may trigger the need for more documentation. For example, if you have a large deposit on a bank statement, the lender may request more information about this.

You may be stressed and even fearful about the mere thought of applying for a mortgage, but rest assured that many people successfully navigate through the process with minimal stress or fanfare. Your mortgage broker or lender is committed to helping you get the loan you need, and you can easily reach out to a friendly, experienced lending professional today to begin learning more about the loan programs that may be right for you.

What Factors Determine Your Home’s Resale Value? Let’s Take a Look

What Factors Determine Your Home's Resale Value? Let's Take a LookThere are several factors that will help you determine the value of your home when you want to sell it. Location, condition, layout, upgrades, and events relating to your home are all important when selling your home.

It’s All About Location

Anyone in real estate will tell you location, location, location is the first thing to consider when buying real estate. If your home is on a busy street, it’s going to be harder to sell unless someone is looking for that exact location.

If a buyer is looking to have a business inside the home, then having more exposure could be important. However, for a family, the most sought after location is in a cul-de-sac or dead-end street where traffic is kept to a minimum.

Your Home’s Condition Is Important

The home you are selling must be in excellent condition to ensure you get top dollar. Buyers are primarily looking for a home that is in move-in condition. If it needs painting, new flooring, a new roof, or new plumbing, it isn’t as desirable as a home that doesn’t need any work. Newer homes typically are in better condition than older homes, unless they have been well-maintained.

Your Home’s Layout

Is your floorplan functional? Most buyers prefer homes with open floorplans and ample kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms. Closets are also important as everyone needs storage space. The number of bedrooms a home has can also be important. Two bedrooms aren’t as popular or functional as three or four bedrooms. It’s also nice to have a flex room that can be a study, exercise room, or a formal dining room if need be. If a smaller home is well-designed, it can be easier to resale than a larger home.

Upgrades And Renovations

If you have an older home, but have upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms, then your home will be easier to sell. Updated appliances can also be a big plus when selling a home.

Natural Disasters And Other Events

If your home has been flooded, been through a fire, or damaged from wind or a storm, then that may cause the value to be less. If a buyer happens to talk to a neighbor who tells them a negative story, that may spook a buyer and cause them to look elsewhere.