Archives for May 2015

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying Raw Land Can Be an Excellent Long-Term Strategy

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying Raw Land Can Be an Excellent Long-term Strategy When many people think about investing in property, they think about purchasing income-producing real estate such as a residential property or an office building with tenants. There are indeed many benefits associated with investing in income-producing property. For example, these properties may produce rent that can offset your ownership expenses. However, buying raw land can also be an excellent long-term investment strategy.

By learning more about the benefits of investing in raw land, you may be ready to start searching for real estate to invest in soon.

Minimal Ownership Expenses

Raw land will not have as many ownership expenses as land. This property may not produce rental income for you, but you also will not have to maintain or repair a building or pay for property insurance. Property taxes and a mortgage payment may be lower as well. Typically, your main expense will be the mortgage payment, and this may be far less than what a mortgage payment on developed land may be.

You essentially will be able to pay for the property outright to have no expenses or to leverage your investment and make affordable mortgage payments to pay for your investment.

Significant Potential Gain

There is a significant potential for long-term financial gain with your purchase of raw land. Consider that you can adjust the zoning or subdivide the property as desired. You can also wait for urban sprawl to reach the area to drive up demand and value for the property. It can be difficult to predict when the property value will increase. However, when you select a property in an area that seems to be growing, you may expect there to be some demand for that property in the coming years. Many who have invested in raw land may realize a significant gain when they make plans to hold onto the property for several years or longer before selling it.

Before you make any financial investment, it is important that you consider the amount of time that you wish to hold the investment before seeing a return on it. With raw land, you generally need to anticipate hanging onto the asset for several years or even decades before seeing a financial gain.

Keep in mind that land is a limited resource, and there is increasing demand for it as populations rise in many areas. With this in mind, you can generally expect most property values to eventually rise over time.

Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things Up

Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things UpOne of the most significant challenges that many people face when preparing to buy a first home relates to saving money for a down payment. While there are many different loan programs with varying down payment requirements, the fact is that it can still be difficult to save up a large sum of money. Some programs may require you to save as much as 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price of the home.

You can employ a few different tips and techniques to save money for a down payment more quickly, and these are some of the options that others have successfully used to save money for their home purchase.

Make Saving Automatic

One idea that works well for many people is to make saving for your new home automatic. This may be as simple as scheduling a regular draft or transfer from your checking account when your paycheck is deposited into your savings account. Some employers may even facilitate this process by contributing some of your funds into a savings account on your behalf. With this option, the money would go directly into your savings account without you having a chance to spend it.

Take Advantage of Retirement Accounts

If your employer provides you with the option of investing in an employer-sponsored retirement account, you should take advantage of this option. Many will offer a dollar-for-dollar matching program, and this may essentially double the amount of money that is saved in the account.

More than that, the funds from many retirement accounts may be withdrawn without penalty if they are used for a first-time home purchase. There are some rules and regulations regarding this, so you should research this option more thoroughly.

These are among the two best options for saving money for a down payment for your first home purchase. There are other ideas that you can consider as well. For example, you may borrow from a whole life insurance policy, obtain a gift from a family member or even sell some of your personal belongings that you no longer need or use.

When you combine many of these ideas together, you may be surprised how quickly your down payment fund can grow. You can also speak with a mortgage professional to learn more about the actual amount of money that you may need for the down payment and closing costs.

Mortgage 101: the Basics of How Mortgage Refinancing Works

Mortgage 101: the Basics of How Mortgage Refinancing WorksRefinancing your home mortgage can be beneficial for you for a number of reasons. As a homeowner, you may have spoken with some of your friends and neighbors who have already refinanced, and you may have heard about some of the different benefits associated with refinancing your mortgage. For example, refinancing can result in a lower mortgage payment, the ability to pay your mortgage off more quickly, reduced interest charges and other benefits. If you have never gone through this process yourself, however, you may not know what to expect with the refinancing process.

Determining if Refinancing Will Benefit You

The actual benefits that you would receive by refinancing will be unique to your situation. Refinancing is a process that results in replacing your existing mortgage with a new mortgage. This will establish your home financing with a new interest rate, a new term and a different mortgage payment. In some cases, the new loan amount that you qualify for will be higher than the amount that you owe, and you may be able to obtain cash out of the refinancing process because of this. One of the best ways to determine what the specific benefits are for refinancing your mortgage is to speak with a mortgage professional directly.

How to Get Started

Refinancing a home mortgage is very similar to applying for the original home mortgage when you purchased the home. However, additional information will be requested regarding your current mortgage, and some information may also be requested about the original purchase. You generally will need to provide tax returns, bank statements and other related financial information to complete the process.

However, initially, you may only be required to fill out a loan application and to agree to have your credit report pulled. This initial step will help a mortgage professional to determine if you may qualify for a refinance mortgage and what the estimated loan terms may be. Generally, this process can be completed quickly.

When you close on your refinance mortgage, the closing will typically take place in a title agency or another similar venue. The title or escrow agent will facilitate the process of using the funds from the new mortgage to pay off the balance on the existing mortgage and to complete any other required steps on your behalf. While there are some steps that need to be taken for you to refinance your mortgage, the process is typically rather easy when you work with the right mortgage professional. You can request more information about refinancing your mortgage when you speak with a loan specialist.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 11, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 11 2015Last week’s scheduled economic reports primarily revolved around the jobs sector. The federal government released reports on Nonfarm Payrolls, the national unemployment rate and weekly report on new jobless claims. ADP issued its monthly report on private sector payrolls. Readings on labor statistics are important to housing markets as stable employment conditions are a significant consideration for prospective home buyers.

Private-Sector Job Creation Falls, Non-Farm Payrolls Rise

According to ADP, private-sector payrolls fell by 6000 jobs in April to a reading of 169,000 new jobs. This was the fifth consecutive monthly drop in new private sector jobs. ADP also adjusted its March reading to 175,000 new private-sector jobs.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Nonfarm Payrolls rose by 223,000 in April after a bleak reading of 85,000 new jobs added in March. Analysts said that all economic sectors added jobs in March with the exception of the energy sector. More workers joined the labor force in April, which suggests that jobs are easier to find.

Unemployment Dips to Lowest Rate since 2008

The national unemployment rate fell to 5.40 percent in April, which was the lowest reading since 2008. While a low unemployment rate is good news for job seekers, it will likely prompt the Federal Reserve to raise its target interest rate sometime this year. Analysts expect that if current economic conditions hold steady, the Fed may raise rates in September. Fed policymakers have consistently stated that any decisions to raise rates would be based on careful review of current domestic and foreign economic trends. When the Fed does raise rates, mortgage rates are expected to increase.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates jumped across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.68 percent to 3.80 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose from 2.94 percent to 3.02 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.85 percent to 2.90 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent, but dropped from an average of 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims also rose, but were lower than expected at 265,000 new jobless claims filed against an expected reading of 277,000 new claims. The prior week’s reading was unrevised at 262,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims remained close to a 15-year low.

While economists note that labor market conditions are improving, wages increased at a year-over-year rate of 2.20 percent as compared to the normal year-over-year increase of 3.00 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include more readings on labor market conditions along with reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment. Readings for weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report will be released as usual on Thursday.

Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won’t Break the Bank

Ready to Relocate? 3 Tips on How to Set a Moving Budget That Won't Break the Bank Relocating to a new area can be exciting, but it can also be expensive. There are many resources to help, but most cost money. However, if you take your time and plan carefully, you can reduce the expense so you don’t start your new life with new debt. Here are three tips to controlling your moving budget.

1. Find Out What’s Free

Nothing is better than paying nothing, right? Don’t assume you have to fork out money for everything you need to move. If you have accepted a new job, ask your new employer whether the company can cover any of your moving expenses.

When it comes to moving supplies, see what you can get without having to pay for it. Stock up on free moving supplies by asking your workplace, local grocery stores, and friends and family for unneeded, sturdy boxes. Instead of paying professional movers, see if you can barter with friends or family for help in moving boxes to and from the truck.

2. Focus On Essentials

After you’ve pursued every possible angle to cover your needs for free, you will likely need to pay for something. The trick is to only do so for what is absolutely necessary. Many providers will offer you help along the way, but you should only sign up for basic services. This could include moving big items such as a piano, paying for gas and tolls, or buying cartons for oddly-shaped or particularly valuable items. If you are not able to move things yourself, this could include hiring professionals.

3. Do It Yourself

If you have the time and are physically fit, start long before moving day and pack everything yourself. Rent or borrow a truck and move your boxes yourself, perhaps with the help of a friend. Take care of disconnecting old utilities and signing up for new ones. Handle both cleaning your old home and preparing your new one. Anything you can do with a little elbow grease will mean less money out of pocket.

Remember that you are in charge of your move, so don’t automatically sign up for every service available. By using free goods and services when available and doing much of the work yourself, you can set and follow a moving budget you can afford.

Understanding Lower FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums and How They May Help You Save Money

Understanding Lower FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums and How They May Help You Save Money FHA loans are designed to help individuals take advantage of the benefits of home ownership, and these loans have low down payment requirements. However, for borrowers who choose to make a down payment that is less than 20 percent of the sales price, the borrower will be required to pay a mortgage insurance premium with the monthly mortgage payment.

This premium is in place to minimize the risk that the lender takes when making a low down payment loan, but it does result in a higher monthly mortgage payment for the homeowner. Recently, the FHA has announced a lower rate for FHA mortgage insurance premiums, and this can help home buyers save money.

A Closer Look At The Reduced Premium

In January 2015, the FHA announced that the FHA premium rate would decline from a current level of 1.35 percent of the loan value to 0.85 percent. This has the potential to save home buyers hundreds of dollars per year in reduced mortgage payments, making home ownership more affordable. In fact, the FHA stated that it believes this reduction will help as many as 250,000 home buyers who currently do not qualify for a mortgage to purchase a home.

Calculating the Savings For You

The mortgage insurance premium is in place on low down payment loans until the home equity has accrued to at least 20 percent of the home’s value. This equity is essentially built up between principal reduction with regular monthly payments and increasing property values, but homeowners typically will need to prove that the equity is present before the mortgage insurance premium can be removed from the monthly payment.

As a home buyer, it is important to know that you may be responsible for the mortgage insurance premium for several years or longer. Therefore, this reduced premium can result in considerable savings for you over time. You can use an online calculator to determine your actual savings and to calculate your monthly payment based on the new rate.

If you have not qualified for a mortgage in the past due to the addition of a mortgage insurance premium, you may consider contacting a mortgage representative about your current options. The reduction in the premium rate will help many to qualify for the loan amount that they need, and you can speak with a representative about your financing needs and to request an estimate for your mortgage payment.

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying Raw Land Can Be an Excellent Long-Term Strategy

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying Raw Land Can Be an Excellent Long-term Strategy When many people think about investing in property, they think about purchasing income-producing real estate such as a residential property or an office building with tenants. There are indeed many benefits associated with investing in income-producing property. For example, these properties may produce rent that can offset your ownership expenses. However, buying raw land can also be an excellent long-term investment strategy.

By learning more about the benefits of investing in raw land, you may be ready to start searching for real estate to invest in soon.

Minimal Ownership Expenses

Raw land will not have as many ownership expenses as land. This property may not produce rental income for you, but you also will not have to maintain or repair a building or pay for property insurance. Property taxes and a mortgage payment may be lower as well. Typically, your main expense will be the mortgage payment, and this may be far less than what a mortgage payment on developed land may be.

You essentially will be able to pay for the property outright to have no expenses or to leverage your investment and make affordable mortgage payments to pay for your investment.

Significant Potential Gain

There is a significant potential for long-term financial gain with your purchase of raw land. Consider that you can adjust the zoning or subdivide the property as desired. You can also wait for urban sprawl to reach the area to drive up demand and value for the property. It can be difficult to predict when the property value will increase. However, when you select a property in an area that seems to be growing, you may expect there to be some demand for that property in the coming years. Many who have invested in raw land may realize a significant gain when they make plans to hold onto the property for several years or longer before selling it.

Before you make any financial investment, it is important that you consider the amount of time that you wish to hold the investment before seeing a return on it. With raw land, you generally need to anticipate hanging onto the asset for several years or even decades before seeing a financial gain. Make sure to talk with your trusted loan officer about what would be best for you and your financial situation. 

Keep in mind that land is a limited resource, and there is increasing demand for it as populations rise in many areas. With this in mind, you can generally expect most property values to eventually rise over time.

Save Some Additional Cash with Our Guide to Lowering Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

Save Some Additional Cash with Our Guide to Lowering Your Monthly Mortgage Payment If you are like many other homeowners, your home mortgage payment is the single largest expense in your monthly budget. This is a fixed expense that you will typically be responsible for until your loan is paid in full or until you sell your home, and you may have a 15, 20 or even 30 year term on your mortgage.

If your home mortgage payment has become unaffordable or burdensome for you to manage with your current financial situation, rest assured that you may be able to save some additional cash each month without selling your home. Refinancing your existing mortgage can provide you with important financial benefits to help you better manage your budget.

How Refinancing Lowers Your Mortgage Payment

Refinancing your existing mortgage essentially will replace your existing loan with a new loan, but you may not understand how this will result in a lower mortgage payment. When you initially applied for your current mortgage, your payment was fixed based on the interest rates at the time as well as the original loan balance. Since that time, you likely have reduced your loan balance considerably, and interest rates may be improved as well. In fact, some homeowners are able to refinance to a lower rate as well as pull equity out of their home in the process.

How Home Equity Could Further Reduce Monthly Expenses

While your main goal for refinancing a home mortgage may be to reduce the large monthly mortgage payment that you are responsible for, the fact is that you may be able to use your home equity to further reduce your monthly expenses. For example, you can use extra funds provided to you through a refinance to pay off an outstanding student loan, a car payment or a credit card balance. Some homeowners may even be able to pay off most or all of their debts by tapping into their home equity.

It is common for homeowners who have a high and unmanageable mortgage payment to feel overwhelmed and even trapped by their financial situation. However, as you can see, lowering your mortgage payment and even reducing some of your other expenses may be easier to do than you might think. If you are interested in learning more about how refinancing your mortgage may help you to improve your financial situation, you can speak with an experienced mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 4, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 4 2015Last week’s economic news included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, the Fed’s FOMC meeting statement and pending home sales. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims were also released as usual. The details:

Case-Shiller: Denver Leads Home Price Gains in February

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed that home prices continue to appreciate, but at a slower rate than in previous years. Home prices increased at a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 4.20 percent in February as compared to the February 2014 reading of 4.40 percent.

Denver, Colorado led February’s year-over-year home price appreciation rates with a reading of 10.00 percent. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year reading of 9.80 percent and Miami Florida reported year-over-year home price gains at 9.20 percent.

FOMC Statement: Fed Expects Moderate Economic Growth

In its customary post-meeting statement the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) the Fed repeated its projections for moderate economic growth, but again kept its options open for raising the target federal funds rate, which currently ranges between 0.00 and 0.250 percent. The Fed noted that inflation remains below its goal of 2.00 percent, largely due to earlier decreases in fuel prices. FOMC indicated it will be monitoring inflation data closely.

FOMC members agreed not to raise the target federal funds rate, but said that FOMC will closely monitor data on its dual mandate to achieve maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent. Labor market conditions, readings on expected and actual inflation rates and domestic and international economic developments will be considered before the FOMC raises the target federal funds rate. When the Fed does raise rates, mortgage rates can also be expected to rise.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall to 15 Year Low

Average mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.94 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 2.85 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent and rose from 0.40 to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly first-time jobless claims were lower than expected with a reading of 262,000 claims filed against expectations of 287,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 296,000 claims filed. This was the lowest reading for new jobless claims in 15 years. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 1250 claims to a reading of 283,750 new claims filed. Analysts typically rely on the four-week rolling average reading as it softens the effects of volatility that can occur from week to week.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports are dominated by employment related data including the National Unemployment Rate, Non-Farm Payrolls and the ADP Employment report. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will be released as usual on Thursday.

Thinking About a Major Renovation? Three Reasons to Consider Adding a Second Story

Thinking About a Major Renovation? Three Reasons to Consider Adding a Second StoryWhen your home is no longer fully functional for your needs, you may be thinking about moving into a larger home with a more functional floor plan. While this is one option to consider, another option is to renovate your existing home. You could build a wing onto your home, or you could add a second story to the property. There are several reasons why adding a second story to your floor plan may be the best solution for you.

Use the Existing Footprint

When you build a wing outward from your home, you will need to pour more foundation and take up a section of the yard with the new addition. By building upward, you can keep your yard intact and use the existing footprint. You may even be able to build into an attic space without making any structural changes to the home itself.

Improve Property Value

When you add a second story onto your home, you essentially will be adding more usable square footage with finished out space. This can have a direct and significant impact on your property value. You will not need to pay moving expenses or worry about if your existing furniture will fit into a new home. You will be able to enjoy the benefits of a larger and more functional home coupled with the ability to recoup most or all of the cost of the renovation through an increase in property value.

Keep Costs to a Minimum

By using the existing footprint of your home and by avoiding pouring more concrete for the foundation, you will be able to keep costs to a minimum. In some cases, such as if you build into the existing attic, you will not need to adjust the frame or roof to find the additional space you need. You may still need to add drywall, HVAC ducts and other features inside the frame of the home to take advantage of this space, but it generally is more cost-effective to build upward rather than outward when renovating a home.

A major renovation is one that can improve the style of your home, but it often will improve the function and increase value as well. If you are thinking about renovating your home, you may research how beneficial it can be to add more space upward on your home rather than to build outward. Talk with your mortgage professional today to see what financial options you may have available to you for renovating your home.