Understanding How Mortgage Amortization Works and How It Can Affect Your Future

Understanding How Mortgage Amortization Works and How It Can Affect Your FutureWhether you’re just beginning to peruse the market or you’ve recently found your dream home, there’s a chance you’re already considering the lenders and loan terms that will work best for you. Amortization may be a less-familiar term when it comes to the layman’s knowledge of buying a home, but knowing more about exactly what it means can go a long way towards a more secure financial future.

Explaining Mortgage Amortization

Amortization is the process of paying off your mortgage loan through regular monthly payments. While a portion of each monthly payment will go towards the price of the home and a portion will go towards interest, having a higher monthly payment can mean you pay less interest on the home’s balance overall. This means that, with a shorter amortization period, you can actually end up paying a lot less for your home.

Why It Can Be Good To Pay Down Sooner

It’s easy to believe that paying your monthly mortgage amount is enough, and this can certainly suffice, but putting down more than this can actually improve your financial situation in the long run. Because the early years of paying off your mortgage will involve paying interest on a larger home balance, it can take a while to even break even and begin to see a lowered interest payment and principal. By making lump sum payments or pre-payments, you may significantly lower your amount owing and pay off your home much sooner.

What’s Best For You?

Certainly, higher monthly payments or lump sums can minimize the amount you owe, but depending on the house you choose, a higher monthly payment can be a tight squeeze. This can also adversely affect the quality of your life if you’re working too much to make ends meet or budgeting so much you can’t enjoy your life. While a shorter loan period is great if you can swing it, if it will negatively impact your life and the financial benefit is not worth it, you may want to take a little longer to pay down.

There are a lot of terms and phrases involved in the mortgage process that can be confusing for the new homeowner, but deciding on the length of your amortization can have a significant impact on your future finances. If you’re currently considering the amount of house you can purchase with your monthly payment, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Baby on the Way? Helpful Advice for Managing a Mortgage With Only One Parent Working

Baby on the Way? Helpful Advice for Managing a Mortgage With Only One Parent WorkingIf you’re dealing with paying off your mortgage and going down to a one-income family, it can be complicated to determine how to financially swing it. However, becoming a parent and managing a mortgage are quite common nowadays with maternity leave and the modern family. While managing a mortgage on just one salary can be a challenge, there are a few simple things you can do to make it work.

Buy The House You Can Afford

It may sound much too simple, but many people get so wrapped up in the concept of a dream home that they forget about what makes the cost of it manageable from month to month. While affordability is important, it becomes even more important when you’re dealing with one income, so ensure you have a monthly payment that you can pay off with one salary. Even if interest rates shift or an emergency comes up, you’ll still be able to handle your monthly payment.

Create A Budget

Budget may very well be the dreaded ‘b’ word when it comes to finances, but there is nothing that’s going to be a better friend to you in managing a one-income mortgage than sticking to it. Instead of leaving your expenses to chance, make sure that you’ve set aside the appropriate funds for your mortgage, groceries, car payments or transportation, necessities and any extras that go along with living. Keep in mind that while starting a budget is good, you may want to schedule weekly meetings to ensure you’re sticking to it.

Maintain An Emergency Fund

Since it may be a struggle to pay off your mortgage and pay for day-to-day life on one salary, it’s important that you’re prepared for any emergencies that come up. Because these will be the things that arise that can sink your budget, like your car breaking down or a window needing to be replaced, you should be setting aside money each month to cover the incidentals. Tossing aside your budget for an emergency can have serious financial implications, so be prepared for what can arise.

It goes without saying that managing a mortgage on one income can be a challenge in this day and age, but this is a situation that many families find themselves in when they decide to have children. If you’re currently trying to determine how you’ll be able to manage your mortgage on one income, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home’s Value and Speed Up Your Sale

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your SaleThe idea of home renovations when you’re selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you’re about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home’s value and making a difference in dollars. If you’re curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it’s unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer’s interest in a home. For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it’s certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it’s incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it’s less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it’s illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 31, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, along with readings on new and pending home sales. Recurring weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Pacific Northwest Shows Fastest Home Price Growth

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for August, home prices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington grew fastest year-over-year. Portland posted an August index reading of 11.70 percent and Portland followed closely with a reading of 11.40 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities with the fastest rates of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.80 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.30 percent year-over-year to 5.30 percent in August.

Low inventory of available homes poses challenges for housing markets, but Case-Shiller reported that the national home price index was 0.60 percent lower than its peak reading in 2006. The 20-City Home Price Index was 7.10 percent lower than the 2006 peak. This provides a positive context for healthy home price growth, but concerns linger about a repeat of the housing bubble that burst and caused home prices to crash.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that a new housing bubble is unlikely. Home buyers are not taking out huge mortgages as was common prior to the Great Recession; mortgage lenders have adopted stricter qualification standards to help ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgages.

New Home Sales Rise in September

Sales of new homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 593,000 sales in September according to the Commerce Department. Although lower than analysts’ expected reading of 600,000 sales, September’s reading surpassed August’s reading of 575,000 sales. August’s reading was downwardly revised from its original reading of 609,000, which suggests that new home prices are growing at a slower rate than expected.

High demand for homes boosted September’s reading for pending home sales, which represents homes under contract for sale that have not closed. Pending home sales increased in September with a reading of 1.50 percent growth as compared to August’s negative rate of -2.50 percent. Pending home sales provide indications of future completed sales and mortgage loan volume.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell five basis points to 3.47 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent, which was one basis point lower than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 2.84 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

In spite of growth in home prices and volume of sales, consumer confidence slowed in October. October’s index reading of 98.60 as compared to an expected reading of 101.00 and September’s reading of 103.50. Analysts said that uncertainty over the upcoming presidential election contributed to October’s lower reading.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, construction spending core inflation, and labor reports. Non-farm payrolls, ADP employment, national unemployment rates will also be released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report and new jobless claims will also be released.

Dealing with Mice: Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to Try

Dealing with Mice? Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to TryThere are things that everyone shares: the need for food, the search for love, and the intrusion of mice into our homes. But don’t despair! There are several ways to deter and remove mice. Read on to learn about a few of the more well known, if a little out-there, methods.

Peppermint Oil And Cotton Balls

The smell of peppermint is lovely for humans, but terrible to a mouse’s nose. Put a few drops of pure peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them where you’ve noticed evidence of mice. Be careful to change those balls for fresh ones at least once a week once the smell wears off, cotton balls are great material for a mouse nest.

Dryer Sheets

Another strong smell that will discourage mice from your home is dryer sheets. Place fresh ones around mouse hangout points, or stuff them into entry holes. Same thing here, though: make sure to remove them once the smell wears off. Nothing looks nicer for a nest than an unscented dryer sheet.

Mousetrap! The Glass Bowl Version

One humane and cost-effective choice is to build a live trap by balancing a glass bowl on an upright coin. Put some chocolate or peanut butter high up inside the bowl. When the mouse reaches for the treat it’ll upset the coin and drop the bowl to the floor, trapping itself. Then slide stiff cardboard over the bowl opening and carry the mouse at least 1km from your home before releasing it. Or you can go the store-bought route but either way, check all traps at least once a day.

Plug Those Holes!

With the mouse gone, there’s two things left to do. First, clean up after it (remove its droppings and sanitize the area) to discourage a return. Then close all its doors. Block any holes bigger than a pencil with caulking, steel or copper wool, or even aluminum foil all of these are tough to chew through.

And that’s it! Keep an eye out, and call in help if it becomes too much to handle these steps are most effective for a small number of rodents.;

S&P Case-Shiller: Home Prices Gain in August

Home prices gained in August per the 20-City S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Analysts said that home values continue to expand in spite of challenges including low inventories of available homes and strict mortgage qualification requirements.

National Home Price Index Near 2006 Peak

According to the national Case-Shiller Home Price Index, August home prices are 0.10 percent below their 2006 peak and all metro areas in the 20-City Home Price Index posted gains. Top gains in the 20-City Home Price Index were posted by Portland, Oregon with a year-over-year gain of 11.70 percent, Seattle, Washington home prices gained 11.40 percent and Denver, Colorado home prices gained 8.80 percent year-over-year.

All metro areas included in the 20-City Index posted year-over-year gains in excess of one percent. New York City had the lowest year-over-year price gain with a year-over-year reading of 1.70 percent in August. Washington, D.C. home prices rose 2.30 percent year-over-year. Home prices in the Cleveland, Ohio metro area increased by 2.90 percent year-over-year.

New Housing Bubble Unlikely

With home price gains close to peak prices seen before the housing bubble burst, concerns may arise over the potential for a new housing bubble to occur in coming months. Analysts say this is unlikely as home buyers are not taking out extreme levels of mortgage debt seen at the onset of the Great Recession. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said “There is no reason to fear another massive collapse is around the corner. The run-up to the financial crisis was marked with both rising home prices and rapid growth in mortgage debt.”

Possible Fed Rate Hike Won’t Cause Mortgage Rates to Explode

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate in December. This action will lead to interest rate increases for consumer credit and mortgages, but not at levels that would make mortgage loans suddenly unaffordable. While gradual increases in federal interest rates would cause mortgage rates to rise over time, market conditions and related factors could potentially cause home prices to slow or even dip in some areas. Regional influences including employment and demand for homes are examples of factors contributing to home price growth or decline in specific areas.

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won’t Hear from Your Friends

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won't Hear from Your FriendsWhen it comes to diving into home ownership for the first time, it can seem like there are so many things you just don’t know. Whether you’re getting advice from your real estate agent, your friends or your family, there are so many things that seem like common sense that they might be lost in the mix of details. Instead of having to squeeze it out of them, here are three tips that are easily forgotten but still essential.

Be Patient And Take Your Time

It’s certainly not the most popular advice, but one of the most important things when deciding to purchase a home is having the time and know-how to make the decision that is right for you. Since you’ll need to consider so many different things when committing to such a significant purchase, from the neighborhood to the local amenities to the future salability of the home, it’s always best to ask the questions so there will be less to regret.

Get More Than One Opinion

It’s entirely possible that you’ve found a home you love and there’s nothing that’s going to get between you and it, but getting someone else’s opinion may provide the criticism you need to take a step back from a home-buying mistake. Instead of going it alone, bring along a friend or family member whose opinion you trust that will be honest with you about the flaws they see. It’s possible that they may notice something you’ve missed that could make or break the entire deal.

Prepare For The Home Inspection

Until you do it, you never really know what you’re going to find out during the home inspection, but doing a little bit of research to determine things you should be looking for can go a long way in saving money down the road. It may seem like you should be able to rely on the inspector to assess things for you, but by asking the right questions you might be able to spot the water tank that’s about to give out or a leak that’s about to get much worse.

There are a lot of little details that go hand in hand with purchasing a home, but often the advice that is the simplest is the easiest to forget.

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It’s a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage Market

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It's a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage MarketIt’s often the case that people will opt to postpone home ownership until the best rates are available or it’s a more stable investment, but in an ever-shifting market it may not be the best decision to put such a sizeable investment off. If you’re wondering whether or not you should put off investing in a home, here are some reasons you may want to start putting your time into searching for a home.

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

While interest rates are constantly changing and have certainly risen since the economic recession of 2008, they still remain relatively low and this can make investing in a home an even better financial decision. There are no certainties that market rates will remain low, but given a lower monthly payment and the easier qualifications nowadays to acquire a loan, the present may be the best time to start investing in your own place.

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

It’s easy enough to wait for a lower home price or even improved interest rates, but there is no guarantee that the market will shift down. In the meantime, you may be spending at lot of your monthly paychecks on rent. If home ownership is one of your goals in life and you’re living month to month with a high rental payment, investing money into a home is a sure way to gaining equity for the future, even in the event that the market shifts up.

It’s A Good Time To Buy

When it comes to the market, there may always be a time coming when you’ll get a better deal, but the fact remains that homes tend to remain on the market a lot longer these days and it’s largely a buyer’s market. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to find the house you want at the price you can afford, but there are a lot of good deals to be found these days and investing sooner is an opportunity to reap financial rewards down the road.

Many people hold off on home ownership because they are waiting for prices to come down or interest rates to change, but the sooner you invest in a home, the more you can benefit from investing into something that is entirely your own. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home at a price you can afford, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 24, 2016

Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with reports on housing starts, building permits and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips amid High Demand for Homes

Home builder confidence in current housing market conditions dipped from September’s index reading of 65 to 63. September’s reading was the highest since the peak of the housing bubble. Any reading above 50 indicates a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. Building new homes is essential to relieving intense demand for homes against short supplies of homes for sale. Builders cited obstacles including low supplies of land for development and workforce shortages, but expressed confidence in overall economic conditions that affect construction and sales of new homes.

Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Rise

According to the Commerce Department, the reading for housing starts was nine percent lower in September than for August. 1.047 million starts were reported in September on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; August’s reading showed 1.150 million starts. Monthly readings tend to fluctuate due to weather, labor and materials supplies. Single family starts provided good news with a higher annual rate of 783,000 starts; this was 8.10 percent higher than August’s reading.

More building permits were issued in September than for August. Overall, 1.225 million permits issued on an annual basis. August’s reading showed 1.152 million permits issued. Building permits for single-family homes rose to 783, 000 on an annual basis, an increase of 8.10 percent over August. September’s increase in single-family permits indicates that builders are shifting their efforts toward single-family construction instead of multi-family construction. This signifies confidence in homeownership and suggests stronger housing markets as renters become homebuyers.

Sales of PreviouslyOwned Homes Increase

The National Association of Realtors® reported that previously owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.47 million sales in September as compared to a rate of 5.33 million sales in August. Pre-owned home sales rebounded after slowing in July and August. Home prices rose 5.60 percent year-over-year to an average of $234,200; this was the 55th consecutive month that home prices rose.

Sales of pre-owned home sales rose in all four regions rose year-over-year from 0.90 percent in the South to 5.80 percent in the Northeast. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales, which was the highest participation rate in four years.

Mortgage Rates Higher

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rates were five basis points higher at 3.52 percent. 15-year fixed rates were three basis points higher at 2.79 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates rose three basis points to 2.85 percent. Discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and were unchanged at -.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were higher than expected at 260,000 claims; analysts expected 248,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the highest in six weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain very low.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller home price data, readings on new and pending home sales along with reports on consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on their regular weekly scheduled.

Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here’s Why

Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here's WhyMost sellers focus on finding the right furniture to stage their home, but they never consider how the placement of that furniture can undo all their hard work. It’s a subconscious thing, but the arrangement of items in the home can really make a difference with buyers.

Be sure to not make some of these common mistakes when arranging furniture to sell a house.

Keep The Traffic Flowing

A proper furniture layout should serve to guide the flow of traffic from room to room and make it easy to move freely. When furniture is placed without foot traffic in mind it can lead to blocked pathways and dead ends when potential buyers are looking around.

Rooms that are overcrowded with furniture have the opposite problem and supply no easy way for guests to move without stepping over each other. Make sure traffic can flow freely through the rooms and there is plenty of space to walk around.

Decide On A Focal Point

Every room needs a focal point for the furniture. Most rooms use built in features like a fireplace, but when the home doesn’t have anything built in a television or painting will serve the same purpose.

Without a focal point, the room will feel disjointed and confused. This leads to chairs or couches pointed in different directions and can make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. A key focal point also takes the focus away from any flaws in the home.

First Impressions Over Function

Sometimes people can become so comfortable in their own home that function will overrule aesthetics and furniture will be placed where it proves the most useful and not where it looks the best.

This is fine until it’s time to sell and the first thing buyers see when they enter a room is furniture in places where it doesn’t look the most appealing. Walking in and seeing the back of furniture is never a good look, so make sure everything looks the best from the place guests will enter the room.

Every home has a different floor plan and it can be difficult determining whether furniture is placed properly, especially when you are used to the way it is now. A local real estate agent can walk through the home and give great insight into what improvements can be made and provide an outsider view of how the home looks to new visitors.