Archives for September 2015

Ignore ‘The Bubble’ Talk – 3 Reasons Why This is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate It is common for those who are interested in buying real estate in the near future to tune into news stories about the real estate market, and many may have heard that there is speculation about a real estate bubble that may pop soon. While this gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that this is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are three good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Low Interest Rates

Most who have plans to purchase real estate will need to apply for a mortgage loan to complete their transaction, and today’s low interest rates are highly competitive. Low interest rates make the cost of borrowing money to purchase real estate lower, and this means that the mortgage payment that may be locked in may be lower. There is some speculation that interest rates will rise in the coming weeks or months, and this means that now may be a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Great Deals Available

More than that, there are some great real estate deals available for buyers to take advantage of. Real estate values in many areas have rebounded in recent years, but some areas are still off historic highs. In addition, there may be foreclosures, short sales and other types of transactions that can result in buyers saving money on their property purchase.

The Benefits Of Home Ownership

Another benefit associated with making a purchase now is that home buyers can start enjoying the financial benefits of home ownership sooner. These benefits include the ability to build equity through debt reduction and value appreciation as well as tax benefits associated with owning property. These are benefits that can have a true impact on a person’s financial situation, and it may be financialy advantageous to have access to these benefits sooner rather than later.

There will always be speculation about what the real estate market may do in the coming weeks, months and years, but it is impossible to accurately determine how the market may act. With this in mind, it may be best for buyers to take advantage of currently great market conditions rather than attempt to time the market in the future. Home buyers can get more information about market conditions by speaking with their trusted mortgage professional.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding the Math Behind Your Mortgage Closing Costs

The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding the Math Behind Your Mortgage Closing CostsIt’s amazing that in a year with extremely low mortgage rates being reported around the country, closing costs are up by as much as 6% from the previous year. Part of the reason for this is that the stricter regulations on loans have increased the costs to banks, and they always find a way to pass on new costs to the consumer.

Understanding Third-Party Closing Costs

When closing on a mortgage the borrower will notice a long list of additional fees that they are expected to pay for. These can range from insignificant into the thousands of dollars depending on the state and the deal. When looking at these fees you will notice that some are third-party fees.

This is not out of the ordinary and you are not being taken advantage of. These costs are for services rendered by outside companies at the request of the mortgage lender to make sure everything is in order with the property.

Closing Costs You Can Expect To Pay

Anybody going through the mortgage process for the first time should expect to see several odd sounding terms on the bill. The first is ‘origination’ or ‘processing’ which is the primary fee the lender charges for creating the mortgage.

Other fees include discount points, flood certification, title insurance, credit report and appraisal. These are all necessary for buying a home and should be expected to appear when closing.

The Trick Behind Zero-Closing Cost Mortgages

With closing fees adding up it may seem like a good idea to opt for a mortgage that has absolutely no closing costs if it’s offered. While no money will be required up front, it adds up in the long run.

This is because the lender is making a deal. They agree to pay all the closing costs for the borrower in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate, which will pay out for them over the course of the mortgage.

The amount you can expect to pay really depends on the cost of living and real estate market where you’re buying. A mortgage specialist will be able to talk to you in advance of applying for your mortgage to give you a better idea of what you are looking at paying for closing costs. Contact one today for more information on why you have to pay closing fees and the amount you should be budgeting for.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 14, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 14 2015A short week after the Labor Day Holiday provided a slack schedule for economic news. Bloomberg reported that residential investment for the second quarter of 2015 represented 3.34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Compared to the long-term average reading of 4.56 percent, analysts said that the Q2 15 reading suggested pent-up demand in the housing market that could help propel the economy through any setbacks that could occur when the Fed raises rates.

Pent-Up Housing Demand a Plus when Fed Raises Rates

Job openings rose in July to 5.75 million as compared to June’s reading of 5.32 million. This is a positive indicator for the economy and for the housing sector, as consumer confidence in terms of buying a home typically relies on stable employment and a strong labor sector.

While economic indicators are looking good for housing construction, analysts note that a shortage of construction workers could affect construction of new residential units. Analysts said that children born during the 1980’s will lead the next wave of first-time home buyers, with millennials following. This trend could last for the next 10 to 15 years and is expected to bolster housing markets.

More lenient mortgage lending requirements and rising confidence among home builders were also cited as positive indicators for housing.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average fixed mortgage rates rose by one basis point to 3.90 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 3.10 percent for 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.91 percent. Average discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent and rose to 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Job Openings Rise as Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

July job openings rose to 5.75 million from June’s reading of 5.32 million; this was the highest number of available jobs since records have been kept. Analysts said that the high number of job openings clearly indicate that the labor force is not able to supply the workers needed by employers. Jobs available range from professional to service related work; this suggests a universal trend rather than hiring challenges within specific job areas.

Hiring activity fell in July to 4.98 million from June’s reading of 5.18 million. July separations also fell, which suggests that employers are having problems finding skilled workers and are holding on to experienced workers.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 275,000 from the prior week’s reading of 281,000 new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Sales, Consumer Price Index and Core CSI along with the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its customary statement on Wednesday, followed by highly-anticipated press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

What is HARP 2.0 And How Do I Know If I Qualify To Refinance With It

You Ask, We Answer: What is 'HARP 2.0' And How Do I Know If I Qualify For HARP?If you’re looking for home refinancing options, you may have had difficulty in the past – especially if you owe more than your home’s value on your mortgage. Getting refinancing consumes much of your home equity, which is in short supply for people who already have a mortgage.

But with the government’s extension of the HARP Program, you can now refinance your home with a variety of lenders – even if you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth. This ‘HARP 2.0’ is a great way for responsible borrowers to find mortgage relief.

But how does the program work, and who’s eligible for it? Here’s what you need to know.

HARP: Affordable Refinancing For Low-Equity Borrowers

HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is a government initiative that was created in 2011. The program is designed to help homeowners who owe mortgages worth more than their home equity – so-called “underwater” homeowners. Under the original HARP program, homeowners with little or no home equity could refinance their home and benefit from lower interest rates – something that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

HARP 2.0, an updated program, was released in 2012. HARP 2.0 is different from the original program in two critical ways. First, it allows borrowers who have mortgage insurance to refinance their homes. Second, it absolves lenders of any responsibility for fraud on previous loans (which removes barriers to issuing new loans).

Do You Qualify? Eligibility Requirements For The HARP 2.0 Program

HARP 2.0 lists several criteria that applicants must meet in order to be eligible for refinancing.

In order for you to be eligible for HARP 2.0, your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. If you signed your mortgage with another provider, it must have been sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae either on or before May 31, 2009. You must also have no previous refinances under HARP.

(Exception: Fannie Mae loans refinanced under HARP between March 2009 and May 2009 are still eligible for HARP 2.0).

You need to be able to prove your income, employment history, credit history, and assets. Some lenders will require a minimum credit score to qualify for HARP 2.0, although this may not be the case in all instances.

Are you underwater on your mortgage? If you qualify for HARP 2.0, you could refinance your home at a lower interest rate and get the relief you need. Contact your trusted mortgage expert to learn more about how HARP 2.0 can make your mortgage more affordable.

The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash When You Buy Your Next Home

The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash When You Buy Your Next HomeWith mortgage bubbles and real estate issues still in recent memory, one might feel that their best option is to buy their next home using cash instead of borrowing the necessary funds. In today’s article we’ll explore the pros and cons of paying cash for that next house or condo.

The Pros Include A Feeling of Complete Ownership

There’s a feeling of pride and joy that comes with owning a home outright. There are several other reasons for paying cash instead of signing on the dotted line and getting and being strapped to a 30-year mortgage. Perhaps the best reason is having 100 percent equity in the home.

The cash will be there to borrow in case of an emergency. Having cash on hand is great if a water pipe bursts or there’s a huge car repair bill. In addition, instead of paying a monthly mortgage, that money could be used to start a college fund, to grow savings or to invest.

And, credit problems wouldn’t be an issue since there wouldn’t be a need to check credit history in the first place. The homeowner may be able to negotiate a better price, which may result in a likelihood of a smoother sale, and attract more prospective buyers.

The Not So Great Reasons To Pay With Cash

Buying a home is one of the largest financial investments a person will make in his or her lifetime.

However, buying a home outright most likely means that a significant percentage of cash will be tied up in the house. Less cash will be on hand for savings, college funds, and emergencies like a plumbing malfunction or an expensive car repair.

While paying in cash may result in a mortgage life, if the property value drops for whatever reason, there’s no purchase protection. For instance, if the market value of a $100,000 home loses 10 percent that will be a loss of $10,000. Take this example and apply it to a mortgage down payment. If the market value falls, there’ll be a loss of $10,000, but the bank would take a loss for the remainder of the property value.

Also, when paying with cash, there is no third party property evaluation to ensure the buyer isn’t overpaying for the home. Banks will send a professional to provide a property evaluation check to verify the correct home value.

Buying a home is a significant personal decision. In today’s tough economy, homeowners are finding ways of cutting back on expenses. Owning a home outright, without the stress of mortgage payments can be extremely liberating. Comminting a large amount of your cash to this large of an investment needs careful planning.  Sit down with your trusted mortgage professional today before making the decision to use cash to pay for a home.

A Step-by-step Guide to Preparing Your Finances for the Mortgage Pre-approval Process

A Step-by-step Guide to Preparing Your Finances for the Mortgage Pre-approval ProcessBeing pre-approved for a mortgage isn’t just a way to get a step ahead, in many cases it’s a necessity to buying a home. Many sellers don’t want to go through the negotiation process of selling their home only to have the buyer drop out when they can’t get approval for the mortgage they were relying on.

The Difference Between Pre-Qualification And Pre-Approval

Pre-qualification is a faster process than pre-approval and is usually a best estimate based on how the borrower answers certain questions about their financial history and status.

Pre-approval is way more valuable to a borrower than pre-qualification because it is a commitment from a lender for a decided amount after they have completed an in-depth verification process based on the submitted documentation.

Preparing For The Pre-Approval Process

The majority of lenders will require the same documentation in order to pre-approve anybody for a mortgage, but there is more information they will need in certain cases.

Anybody applying for a pre-approval will need to ready at least two years’ worth of financial information, including W-2s, Form 1099s and federal tax returns as well as current banking and financial records.

Here is where the pre-approval process gets more in-depth, not only will the lender need to see how much money the applicant has in their bank, but they will need proof as to where the money came from. The lender will need to know the difference between income, gifts or investment withdrawals to help them make their decision.

Having this information ready in advance will speed up the process significantly.

Prepare Proof Of Assets And Allow A Credit Check

Applicants will be required to prove ownership of all assets and will need a letter to prove that any cash gifts given to them to assist with the payment are not loans that need to be paid back. This is important information that will help a lender make a decision, so having the letter ready will save a lot of time.

The lender will also need to check the applicant’s credit to compare it to the applicant’s income. Many people refuse the credit check because they are afraid it will impact their credit score, but the impact is very low and the lender needs this information. It is also a good way to learn about any errors in the credit report early, before they can pose a problem down the line.

The process is not nearly as intimidating as it appears, and an experienced mortgage specialist can help you prepare everything you need well in advance of applying for pre-approval.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 8, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 8 2015Last week’s economic news included reports on construction spending, private and public sector employment data and a report from the Fed indicating that any move to raise interest rates may be delayed. The details:

Construction Spending Meets Expectations, Beige Book Indicates Wage Pressures

Analysts said that construction is gaining strength and could soon be the strongest sector of the economy. Construction spending for July met growth expectations of 0.70 percent as compared to June’s reading of 0.10 percent. The Commerce Department reported that this reading translated to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.98 trillion, which was the highest rate of spending in the construction sector since May 2008.

Residential construction spending was up 10.80 percent year-over-year in July, with both single-family and multifamily construction posting double digit gains.

The Federal Reserve issued its Beige Book report last Wednesday, which indicated that wage pressures in many of the 13 Fed districts could cause rising inflation, which the Fed has cited as a component in any decision to raise the federal funds rate. The Fed has set a benchmark of 2.0 percent inflation as an indication for raising rates, but doesn’t expect to see this reading in the short term.

Higher wages increase consumers’ discretionary spending, which would contribute to more hiring and increasing demand for goods and services.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Higher

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.89 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage wash higher by three basis points and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose by three basis points to 2.93 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 282,000 new claims against last week’s reading of 270,000 new claims and expectations of 275,000 new jobless claims. While this was the highest reading for new jobless claims in since late June, the reading for new weekly jobless claims has remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the last six months.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims rose by 3250 new claims to an average of 275,500 new claims. Analysts said that layoffs are declining and that workers who lose their jobs are finding new employment quickly.

Continuing jobless claims fell by 9000 to a reading of 2.26 million for the week that ended August 22.

ADP Employment Rises, Non-Farm Payrolls, National Unemployment Rate Fall

Private sector payrolls increased by 190,000 jobs in August as compared to July’s reading of 170,000 jobs according to ADP. This supports the trend of stronger hiring seen by economists in recent weeks. The government reported that Non-farm payrolls, which include public and private sector jobs, fell to 173,000 jobs against July’s reading of 245,000 jobs.

The Commerce Department reported that the national unemployment rate dipped to 5.10 percent in August against expected reading of 5.20 percent and July’s reading of 5.30 percent. The declining unemployment rate further supports economic growth and stronger labor markets.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include job openings, the usual weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates and a report on consumer sentiment.

From Big to Small: How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller, More Efficient Home

From Big to Small: How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller, More Efficient HomeIf you’re moving from a large home into a smaller house or condo, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying lower mortgage payments, a lower utility bill and not having to do as much cleaning. But before you move, you’ll want to take certain precautions to ensure that you’re not overwhelmed.

A smaller home won’t have as much room for your belongings, which means you may need to get creative. Here’s how you can downsize without losing your mind.

Decide What You’re Going To Keep

Before you do anything else, choose which of your belongings are coming with you. Unless you’ve habitually been getting rid of things you no longer need over the years, chances are you have a large stash of things you’ll never use again. That’s the kind of clutter you’ll need to eliminate before moving into a smaller home.

The obvious exceptions would be anything of significant sentimental or monetary value, but you’ll want to get rid of lots of your everyday objects – for instance, there’s no reason why you need three soup ladles. Having trouble deciding what to throw out? Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you can’t remember the last time you used it, you probably don’t need it.

Have Anything In Storage? Find A Storage Solution Now

Most homeowners nowadays have the luxury of large storage spaces like basements or attics – but if you’re moving into a condo or a small home, storage will be at a premium. And that means anything stored in your basement, garage, or attic will probably need to find a new home. You’ll want to look for a storage solution earlier rather than later.

Perhaps you could rent a storage locker in your neighborhood, or let children or relatives hold onto your belongings until you decide what to do with them.

On Your Moving Day: Move Large Items First, And Put Away Stored Items Before Anything Else

When the day comes for you to move into your new home, you’ll want to try to find the best configuration for the space right away – before your new home is filled with boxes stacked six feet high. Before you do anything else, move your furniture and other large items into the space first, and get them set up so they’re out of the way.

Once all of your boxes are in your new home, put storage items away before anything else – it’ll help you avoid unnecessary stress and sorting later.

Downsizing can be stressful, but with a solid plan and a great mortgage professional you can transition to a smaller home and and save a lot.

From Big to Small: How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller, More Efficient Home

From Big to Small: How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller, More Efficient HomeIf you’re moving from a large home into a smaller house or condo, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying a lower utility bill and not having to do as much cleaning. But before you move, you’ll want to take certain precautions to ensure that you’re not overwhelmed.

A smaller home won’t have as much room for your belongings, which means you may need to get creative. Here’s how you can downsize without losing your mind.

Decide What You’re Going To Keep

Before you do anything else, choose which of your belongings are coming with you. Unless you’ve habitually been getting rid of things you no longer need over the years, chances are you have a large stash of things you’ll never use again. That’s the kind of clutter you’ll need to eliminate before moving into a smaller home.

The obvious exceptions would be anything of significant sentimental or monetary value, but you’ll want to get rid of lots of your everyday objects – for instance, there’s no reason why you need three soup ladles. Having trouble deciding what to throw out? Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you can’t remember the last time you used it, you probably don’t need it.

Have Anything In Storage? Find A Storage Solution Now

Most homeowners nowadays have the luxury of large storage spaces like basements or attics – but if you’re moving into a condo or a small starter home, storage will be at a premium. And that means anything stored in your basement, garage, or attic will probably need to find a new home. You’ll want to look for a storage solution earlier rather than later.

Perhaps you could rent a storage locker in your neighborhood, or let children or relatives hold onto your belongings until you decide what to do with them.

On Your Moving Day: Move Large Items First, And Put Away Stored Items Before Anything Else

When the day comes for you to move into your new home, you’ll want to try to find the best configuration for the space right away – before your new home is filled with boxes stacked six feet high. Before you do anything else, move your furniture and other large items into the space first, and get them set up so they’re out of the way.

Once all of your boxes are in your new home, put storage items away before anything else – it’ll help you avoid unnecessary stress and sorting later.

Downsizing can be stressful, but with a solid plan and a great real estate agent, you can find a smaller home and move in without issues.

How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the Seller

Going Low: How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the SellerYou’ve found it: A large new home for your family. It’s in the area of the city that you love, with the perfect architectural style and lots of room for entertaining guests. It would have been perfect for you, but there’s only one problem – you’re not quite ready to pay the price the seller is asking for. You’ll have to put in an offer below the seller’s asking price – a risky move.

Although you will be rolling the dice with an offer below asking price, there are ways that you can increase the likelihood that your offer will be successful. Before you submit your offer, use these three strategies to make it more appealing.

Work Out Other Terms In The Seller’s Favor

If you’re going to ask for a lower selling price, it helps to show that you’re willing to compromise on other terms – that way, you come across as a reasonable human being and not a bargain hunter. By offering to give the seller the better deal on other terms, you’re showing that you want to close a sale – and the seller will see you making an effort to come to an agreement and respond in kind.

There are several ways to do this. When you submit your offer, see if you can negotiate an arrangement that has you paying the closing costs or a closing date that works better for the seller. Or, offer to make the down payment in cash or give the seller a larger deposit.

Arm Yourself With Facts To Make Your Case

If the home you want to buy is priced well above fair market value, you can easily use that to your advantage and turn it into a benefit for the seller. First, you’ll want to look up property values for similar homes in the area. You should also investigate how long it takes homes in that area to sell and the difference between the average asking and average selling price in the area.

If you can show the seller that their asking price is above their neighborhood’s average sale price or that their home has been on the market longer than the average home (or both), then you can make a strong case for a lower offer.

Submitting an offer below asking price can work, but it’s not something that should simply be done on a whim. It takes careful planning and a great strategy to actually win a bid if you’re coming in below asking price.