Archives for February 2016

‘Don’t Sit Around Waiting for a Deal’ and Other Great Advice from Successful Home Sellers

'Don't Sit Around Waiting for a Deal' and Other Great Advice from Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do your research and find an agent who has a number of “Sold” homes under their belt. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees, and keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile doing some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a red flag that an agent is trying to win over your business, regardless of whether the sale price is reasonable. In this case, you will want to choose the agent that provides the most appropriate appraisal.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by researching your agents and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success. If you’re almost ready to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

3 Reasons You Should Trust in a Mortgage Advisor Instead of Trying to Predict Rates

3 Reasons You Should Trust in a Mortgage Advisor Instead of Trying to Predict RatesIf the time has come to purchase a home and you’ve been perusing the real estate market, it’s possible you’ve also been considering the mortgage options that might work best for you. In the event that you’re already spending a lot of time looking at homes and trying to sell your own, here are a few reasons you may want to leave your mortgage considerations to a professional.

Qualifications You Can Count On

If you’re new to the world of home purchasing and have concerns about learning the ropes on your own, a mortgage advisor can be a great way to navigate the market and get the information you need without having to do all of the legwork. Because a mortgage advisor has to have the necessary qualifications to give you advice, they’ll be able to guide you through available options so you can find the product that is best suited for your financial situation.

A Knowledgeable Expert On Your Side

Between putting in offers on a home and dealing with lenders, it can often feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place, and getting squeezed financially. However, the ideal mortgage advisor will be someone who is there solely to assist you and provide you with viable options. Instead of a very specific set of options provided by the bank, an advisor will be able to identify products your lender might not suggest, which means you’ll have more options and a representative who will be able to recommend the best ones for you.

The Inside Scoop On The Industry

It’s the job of a mortgage advisor to be on top of the market, have a comprehensive knowledge of the products out there and be familiar with the lenders, so this means less research and a lot more expertise for you when it comes to any final mortgage decisions. Not only will they have the know-how in the industry you’re heading into, they’ll be aware of the information the lender requires and may be able to score you a better deal when the time to make a decision comes.

Finding the ideal lender for your mortgage can be a struggle in times where there are so many small details to deal with, but a mortgage advisor can work to simplify the process. If you’ll soon be applying for a mortgage and are considering your lender options, you may want to contact one of your local mortgage professionals for more information.

3 Reasons You Might Decide to Retire to a Tiny Home – and Why You’ll Love It

3 Reasons You Might Decide to Retire to a Tiny Home - and Why You'll Love ItMany people romanticize the idea of paying off their home mortgage early so they can enjoy their home in retirement, but when it comes to the later years of life, a big house can actually be too much to handle. If you’ve started to consider a smaller home and are wondering why it might be a good decision for you and yours, here are a few things you may want to consider.

It’s Much Easier To Maintain

It is often the idea of the palatial estate with a pool that homeowners get excited about, but when it comes to reality, the larger the home, the harder it is going to be to take care of and maintain. If you don’t have a maid or a butler, a smaller home will enable you to spend a lot more of your free time doing things that you love instead of being bound to a house that is full of repairs and maintenance that needs to be completed.

Save On The Big Home Bills

One of the worries associated with getting older is having the ability to maintain your lifestyle in old age, and a smaller home can actually alleviate many of the high costs that go along with having an oversized home. A smaller home will not only minimize your insurance and taxes, it can also positively impact the amount you pay each month for heating and electricity, so you’ll notice the savings right off the bat.

The Freedom Of A Downsized Lifestyle

One of the best things about downsizing to a smaller home is the huge sense of responsibility that can be left in the dust. Instead of being held back by all of the stuff required to fill a big house, a small home means there is less to worry about. This may mean you’ll have the option to go on longer vacations or can even relocate to a hot climate for the summer months, and you’ll only need someone to come by and water the plants every once in a while!

There are plenty of people that decide to downsize later in life since it can actually be a great way to save money and have a lot more freedom.

Setting the Record Straight: 3 Major Misconceptions About Mortgage Financing

Setting the Record Straight: 3 Major Misconceptions About Mortgage FinancingPurchasing a home is often considered an important step in one’s financial life, no matter what point you arrive at it, but there are things you should know about financing your home purchase before stepping into the fray. If you’re planning on buying a home soon and want to avoid some major missteps, here are a few tips that will set you up for success.

Taking The Lender You’re Offered

In the event that you’ve been pre-qualified for a certain amount, you’ll want to find a lender that will make the process towards a home purchase a little bit smoother. Instead of going with the first option that’s offered, do some research and come up with a shortlist of potential lenders that have good reviews and have been around the industry for a significant amount of time. The process will be a lot more comfortable if there’s someone on your side you know you can trust.

Keeping Your Credit History In The Dark

Without a doubt, the lender will be looking at your financial history in order to determine the amount of financing you will receive, but it’s still important to be prepared on your end so that you know what to expect. Start by acquiring your credit report so that you can correct any inaccuracies on it and be prepared for what this score will say about your financial viability. When it comes to the financing you’ll need down the road, the right information on your credit report will make a difference in the end result.

Forgetting About The Loan Officer

If you’ve already established who your lender will be, it’s still important to meet with the person who will be handling your loan and make sure they’re someone you can trust. Ensure that you are aware of their qualifications and that they have enough previous experience in their back pocket to provide you with insights that may come in handy. While having a reliable lender is certainly a good start, the right individual to handle your loan will be someone who is licensed and involved with a local, professional mortgage association.

All of the things involved with mortgage financing can be quite complicated, but by finding the right lender and preparing yourself for the tough financial questions, it can be a much easier experience. If you’re starting to consider your options for a home purchase, you may want to contact one of our local mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Feburary 8, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 8 2016Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on construction spending and several labor-related reports along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

Construction Spending Higher in December

U.S. construction spending rose by 0.10 percent in December for a seasonally adjusted annual total of $1.12 trillion. The Commerce Department reported that construction firms spent 10.5 percent more than in 2014.Residential construction spending totaled $416.8 billion for 2015, which was 12.60 percent higher than in 2015.

Higher construction spending can be a double-edged sword, as it can indicate that builders are stepping up construction or that they are paying higher prices for labor and supplies. Builders have consistently cited labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable land as concerns. Short supplies of available homes impacted housing markets in 2015. Low inventories of homes drive up home prices and impact affordability for first-time buyers; these conditions eventually slow housing markets with fewer qualified buyers and home sales.

Fed Benchmarks Show Mixed Readings

The Federal Reserve consistently cites its goals of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent as benchmarks for its decision to raise or not raise the target federal funds rate. National unemployment reached a new low of 4.90 percent in January against expectations of 5.00 percent and December’s reading of 5.00 percent. Inflation held steady with no increase in January; this offsets the good news concerning unemployment. Lower oil prices are holding inflation well below the Fed’s desired rate of 2.00 percent.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.72 percent; the corresponding rate for 15 year mortgages fell six basis points to 3.01 percent and the average rate for a5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped five basis points to2.85 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 285,000 new claims against expectations of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. While rising jobless claims could suggest a slowing jobs market, the low unemployment rate suggests otherwise.

Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP Payrolls Fall

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm payrolls added 151,000 jobs in January as compared to expectations of 180,000 jobs added and December’s reading of 262,000 jobs added in December. Analysts said that January’s reading is further evidence that a long-running decline in new jobless claims has ended.

ADP payrolls were also lower in January with 205,000 new jobs posted as compared to December’s reading of 267,000 private sector jobs added. Holiday hiring likely impacted higher readings in December, but time will tell if declining job growth is trending.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include data on job openings, consumer sentiment and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony.

Spring is Almost Here: Planning a Massive Spring Cleaning in Just 4 Easy Steps

Spring is Almost Here: Planning a Massive Spring Cleaning in Just 4 Easy StepsIt may seem like the holiday season has just passed, but it won’t be too long before the flowers begin to bloom and spring peeks out from around the corner. While the tradition of spring cleaning that comes with the season may not be as common as it once was, it can actually be a great way to revive and refresh and prepare for the summer ahead.

Begin With The Bedroom

Start with your bed by washing all of the sheets and linens, and then move on to dusting, making sure that all of the spots missed throughout the year are wiped clean. Since you may find yourself purchasing some extra items in the summer months, take an hour or two to look through your closet and donate or discard any pieces you haven’t worn for two years.

Liven Up The Living Room

As one of the most lived-in rooms, your living room will likely need some extra time with the vacuum or mop, so once you’ve dusted the baseboards and vacuumed the couch, give the floor your undivided attention. Once it’s thoroughly cleaned, dust everything and sort through any books or papers that have been left about so they won’t sit around for another year.

Clear Away The Kitchen Grease

The kitchen can be one of the easiest to spots to sully, so clear out the fridge and wipe down the shelves rigorously, ensuring any food that has expired is composted. Give the floor a good scrub and pull the refrigerator and stove back from the wall so you can get rid of any dust or accumulated grime underneath. Last but not least, wipe the countertops with an all-purpose cleaner for a fresh scent.

Bargain With The Bathroom

If you’ve already cleared away the dirty towels, clean out the drawers and cabinets and ensure any toiletries you no longer use are thrown out. Wipe the mirror clean with a glass cleaner and give the toilet a good scrub. It may also be a good opportunity to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the floor for a clean feel it may not get for a while.

The arrival of spring after the long months of winter is always a welcome occurrence, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to clear away the dust of last year.

Looking Ahead in 2016: Mortgage Trends That May Affect You

Looking Ahead in 2016: Mortgage Trends That May Affect YouThe housing market is in a constant state of flux, and with the changing shape of real estate there will most definitely be notable trends to watch out for in the next year. Whether you’re approaching the market with caution or are ready to dive in without worry, here are some things to watch out for in 2016.

A Slow Growth Outlook

One of the most worrisome impacts of a slowed economic outlook is how it can affect people’s monthly payments, and this is slated to be a significant concern over the next few years. With the possibility for lowered global gains in 2016 and the job loss that can stem from this, it may be the case that many borrowers end up falling behind on their payments a little more this year. While this doesn’t pose a significant worry in the short term, it may become problematic in the event of a sustained downturn.

Bring On The Millennials

It’s definitely the case that few have struggled to make their way in the economic world as Millennials have over the last few years. However, according to Trulia.com, approximately 80% of those polled between 18-34 want to make a new home purchase before 2018. While many Millennials will be deterred by rising interest rates and will instead stick around their parents’ house a little longer, there definitely stand to be a few more wading into this market with growing savings and better job opportunities.

An Ever-Shifting Market

When it comes to real estate, prices on a day-to-day basis are constantly in a state of flux but that trend is expected to become even more extreme in 2016. While the rent and purchasing price for homes in metropolitan areas will continue to increase with demand, the prices of homes in smaller centers will actually diminish. So, while real estate prices are constantly on the rise and it may be a good time to get into the market, a home in a place a little less popular may provide a bit more bang for your buck in the coming year.

With the real estate market and the world economy experiencing significant fluctuations in the last few months, there are bound to be many ups and downs in the market this year. If you’re considering a new home in 2016 and would like to know more about your options, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professional for more information.

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best Investment

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best InvestmentWhen delving into the world of real estate and investment property, there are many terms that will come up that require further explanation. Whether you’ve never heard the phrase ‘home equity’ before or you have a little familiarity, here are the ins and out of what it means and how this asset can help your financial outlook.

All About Home Equity

Essentially, home equity refers to your portion of the value of your home, and the amount of this figure is important because it is included among your assets when determining your net worth. If this sounds confusing, think of it this way: if you have completely paid off the cost of your home, the value of your home equity is this total amount. Of course, because most people seek a lender to borrow money from when they purchase a home, their home equity would consist of their down payment and whatever amount they’ve paid down on the mortgage since purchase.

An Example Of Home Equity

To provide further clarification, let’s use the example of a house that has been purchased for $300,000. In the case that a down payment of 20% has been provided at the time of purchase, the equity in the home would be $60,000. Since this amount is the percentage and cost of the house that’s been paid down, this is the amount of the house that is actually owned and this will be figured among an individual’s assets.

How Home Equity Works

As you pay the amount that you owe on your home each month, you are paying off your total debt and thereby increasing your equity. Since this amount of money is considered an asset that belongs to you, it can be used down the road to buy another home or invest in other important things like education or retirement. While paying off the amount owed on a home is a considerable investment, if the value of your home increases, this means that you’ll still owe the same on it but your home equity will have automatically increased.

As an asset that is part of your financial net worth and can be used down the road to fund other investments, home equity is a very useful term to know when it comes to purchasing a home. If you’re on the market for a home and are considering your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Everything You Need to Know About Fannie Mae’s New Home Ready Mortgage

Everything You Need to Know About Fannie Mae's New Home Ready MortgageTraditionally, getting a mortgage requires you to have a level of income appropriate to the size of home that you’re buying. But for a lot of low-income and minority borrowers, a simple measure of one person’s income isn’t an accurate measure of whether or not that person can afford a home.

Now, with the Home Ready mortgage from Fannie Mae, multigenerational and extended households can have easy access to mortgage funds. How does the Home Ready mortgage work? Here’s what you need to know.

Flexible Down Payment Requirements Make Home Ownership More Accessible

Traditional mortgages require you to pay 20% of the home price upfront in the form of a down payment, or 5% if you register for Private Mortgage Insurance. And although 5% is a small down payment, it’s still a significant sum of money for a lot of low-income borrowers. But now, with the Home Ready mortgage, qualified borrowers can access financing with as little as 3% down, making it easier to become a homeowner.

Non-Borrower Household Income Is Now Counted As Income

Another big change that the Home Ready mortgage introduces is that lenders may now count all household income when determining affordability criteria (but not qualifying income). There’s no minimum requirement for funds to come directly from the primary borrower, which means that non-borrower members of the household can have their income counted when determining whether a mortgage is affordable. It’s also possible to use non-occupant borrower income – for instance, the income of a borrower’s parent – to be counted as income.

For extended and multigenerational households, this means mortgages are much more affordable as all household income can now be counted as eligible.

Eligibility Requirements: Who Can Qualify For A Home Ready Mortgage?

Home Ready mortgages come with certain eligibility criteria attached that homeowners will need to meet. In order to be eligible, a household must be below a certain percentage level of area median income (AMI) – that is, a household must fall somewhere in the lower half of their area’s income scale.

For properties that are located in “low-income census tracts”, there is no income limit. For properties in high-minority areas and designated disaster areas, borrowers at or below 100% of AMI can access Home Ready financing. And in all other census areas, borrowers can access financing if their annual household income is no greater than 80% of AMI.

The new Home Ready mortgage from Fannie Mae can make it easier for certain households to qualify for mortgages. Your local mortgage advisor can help you to understand how the program works. For more information, call your mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Feburary 1, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 1 2016Last week’s economic events included S&P Case-Shiller’s home price indexes, reports on new and pending home sales and the Fed’s FOMC statement. The details:

Case-Shiller Reports Fast Paced Home Price Growth

According to S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, U.S. home prices grew at their fastest pace in 16 months in November. Portland, Oregon led the charge with home prices increasing 11.10 percent year-over-year followed by San Francisco, California at 11.0 percent; Denver, Colorado posted a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent. 14 cities posted home price gains while four cities posted declines in home prices and two cities posted no change on a month-to-month basis.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, noted that slumping oil prices and a strong dollar were posing challenges to domestic and international homebuyers. In spite of high demand, the supply of available homes continued to drive home prices up in most cities in the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index.

In related news, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped to a year-over-year reading of 544,000 new home sales as compared to November’s upwardly revised reading of 491,000 new homes sold and expectations of a year-over-year reading of 506,000 new homes sold as of December. The December 2015 reading was 9.90 percent higher than for December 2014.

Analysts cited a shortage of new homes for driving sales; builders are facing obstacles in hiring and finding suitable land for development. Some builders were said to be targeting high-end buyers which leaves a shortage of homes available for first-time and mid-range home buyers.

The National Association of Realtors® reported a minor gain in pending home sales in December. Pending home sales gauge future closings and mortgage activity. December’s pending sales reading was higher by 0.10 percent month-to-month and posted a year-over-year gain of 4.50 percent. December’s gain represented the 16th consecutive monthly gain for pending home sales. Analysts had expected a month-to-month gain of 1 percent, but high demand and a slim supply of affordable homes are leaving would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Fed Holds Off on Raising Rate; Mortgage Rates Lower

The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise its target federal funds rate on Wednesday; Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.79 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 3.07 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were lower by one basis point at 2.90 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6, 0.5 and 0.5 percent respectively.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate.