Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

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.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Multi-Generational Living: Our Guide to Buying a Home That Suits Your Whole Family

Multi-generational Living: Our Guide to Buying a Home That Suits Your Whole Family It was very common decades ago for several generations of a family to live together, and this may have included kids, parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents in some cases. Today’s modern homes are generally designed to accommodate a more traditional modern family, which includes only parents and kids or for only a married couple without kids. When you are buying a home for other generations as well, it is important for you to pay attention to a few important points.

The Right Living Spaces and Accommodations

Generally, a home with a floor plan that is most suitable for multiple generations is one with different wings of bedrooms and several different living areas. There is something to be said for togetherness, but you may find that having several different living areas as well as having a floor plan that keeps older family members’ bedrooms away from the bedrooms of younger family members is a good idea.

After all, there will be plenty of times when older family members may want to chit chat or read a good book in a living area while others may want to turn on the TV or music. In addition, they may have different sleeping schedules, and noise from either of their rooms can be bothersome.

Special Considerations for Older and Younger Generations

You should also think about the special needs of older and younger generations. Very young family members, for example, may benefit from a large, enclosed backyard, a play room and well-insulated windows or a home location removed from loud busy roadways. Older generations may prefer a bedroom on the first floor, special safety features in the bathroom and a home without many steps or steep elevations outdoors.

It may be challenging to find a home that can accommodate older and younger generations perfectly, so some modifications may need to be made to a home after purchasing it.

Finding the perfect home for a basic nuclear family is rarely easy, and your challenges may be more significant when you are searching for a home for a multi-generational family. While you may have more needs and desires when looking for a home that is ideal for a larger number of people with more variation in their ages, the fact is that most will be able to find a great home that is ideal for most or all of their needs with a little time and effort.

Posted in Real Estate Tips

You Ask, We Answer: How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home?

You Ask, We Answer: How Does the Escrow Process Work when Buying a Home? When you purchase a new home, escrow is a word that you will hear numerous times from different parties. There are several types of escrow accounts that will be established, and you may be wondering where your money will go when placed in an escrow account or how it is applied to your transaction. By taking time to learn more about the escrow process, you can be a more informed buyer.

Your Initial Escrow Deposit

Within a short period of time after your offer is accepted by the buyer, you will be required to make an escrow deposit to the title company. Typically, you will write a check for the escrow deposit, and your title agent will hold the funds in a non-interest bearing account. These are funds that will be applied to your down payment at closing, and they serve as a good faith of your interest to proceed to the seller.

In the event you back out of the contract after the option period has passed, the escrow deposit may be handed over to the seller and would not be refunded to you.

Escrows for Taxes and Insurance

In addition to this type of escrow deposit, you may also hear about an escrow account for your property taxes and insurance. Setting up this type of escrow account may be a requirement by your lender, but it is not always required. Essentially, this is the account that your property taxes and homeowners insurance will be paid out of. You will pay a specified amount of money into the escrow account to establish a balance at closing, and a portion of your monthly payments will be applied to taxes and insurance as well.

The amount of money that is required at closing will be dependent on the month that you close as well as the annual costs for taxes and insurance.

Essentially, escrow accounts are established to pay for specified expenses that you are required to pay for as a buyer. The initial escrow deposit for the sales contract is a short-term type of escrow account, and the property tax and insurance escrow will remain intact until your mortgage is paid off in most cases.

Now that you know more about the escrows that you will be required to contribute money to as a buyer, you will be a more informed buyer when making your real estate purchase.

Posted in Market Outlook

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.

Posted in Real Estate Tips

Real Estate Roundup: The Top 5 Apps to Use When Buying or Selling a Home

Real Estate Roundup: The Top 5 Apps to Use When Buying or Selling a HomeWhether you are buying property, selling property or both, the process can be challenging, stressful and even overwhelming at times. Just as you may use various mobile apps to streamline and simplify other aspects of your life, you can also use some well-designed apps to improve your overall experience when you are buying or selling property. These are some of the best apps for you to use as you move forward with your real estate plans.

iBank

This app is not free for you to download, but the small fee that you pay to use iBank may be well worth paying for. This is an app that you can use to track your bank account balances and living expenses. Financial strain is one of the most significant sources of stress for those who are moving, and this is an app that you can use to ease your money management challenges.

PowerOne FinancePro Calculator

The property that you choose to purchase will impact your budget in a number of ways. The most obvious difference will be a change in your mortgage payment, but there are other expenses that will change as well. For example, there will be changes to your property insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance and more. This is an app that will help you to better estimate your total housing expenses.

GoodReader

You can accumulate a mountain of paperwork when buying or selling property, and GoodReader is an affordable app that will help you keep track of the paperwork. You can scan the items into the system and keep them stored for easy access and portability.

Zillow

You may already use Zillow on your PC or laptop, but you may love the experience of using it on your smartphone. This is a property search app that buyers can use to get details about property listings while on the go. It can also be used to help you learn more about other listings and their prices that your own home may be competing with when you list a property for sale.

Although property search apps like Zillow are a good resource for general information, working with your trusted, local real estate agent is always a better option when you are seriously considering a property purchase. Your agent may also offer a local app that you can download to access the most current, relevant property search data.

ScannerPro

When you need to scan documents to send digital copies of them, ScannerPro is a great app to use. This is an affordable app that works with your iPhone or iPad. Essentially, it creates a photo image of your documents, and you can then transmit them or store them as desired.

Buying and selling real estate can be cumbersome and complicated, but it does not have to be. Working with a trusted real estate agent is always the first step to buying or selling a home. These apps can simplify the process, but they are never a replacement for a knowledgeable real estate agent.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Buying a Rental Property? How to Choose Between Single-Family and Multi-Family Homes

Buying a Rental Property? How to Choose Between Single-family and Multi-family Homes Entering into the real estate market requires time and monetary commitment. Depending on the purpose for purchasing rental property determines whether one should invest in a single family or multi-family dwelling. In either case, one should prepare short or long term goals, be cognizant of his or her financial health and monetary comfort zone, and conduct a comparative market analysis before considering a real estate investment.

Short Term Versus Long Term Investments

For investment purposes, a multi-family dwelling provides the owner with more potential rental income than a single family dwelling. However, if the purpose is to claim the new location as a future domicile, then investing in a single family dwelling provides the buyer with time for relocating.

One should be aware, however, that rentals are not eligible for homestead exemptions. With the exception of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, all states offer some type of homestead exemption for primary residences. As a result, if changing one’s domicile is part of the long-term goal, then considering the purchase of a single family for a temporary rental, until one is ready to change domiciles, may prove advantageous.

Investment Considerations

One must be prepared for the initial rental preparation. Plumbing and sewage lines must be in working conditions to avoid impending disasters. Adequate electrical service and outlets, in combination with internet access, attract financially secure tenants. If one depends on registered, licensed, and insured contractors to provide the necessary workmanship, one must also be prepared for delays in the delivery of goods, inspections, and completed work orders. If one’s finances are not be stretched beyond his or her monetary comfort zone, then time may present the only obstacle.

Location Versus Location

Any real estate investor must consider location. One should look at the demographics of an area, the percentage of violent versus non-violent crimes committed in an area, and the future plans for development of any surrounding areas. Usually the rating of the local high school will also provide insight into the stability of the surrounding communities.

Consult A Reputable Agent

Before making an investment, one should consult a licensed and experienced real estate agent familiar with area rentals. The agent should provide information regarding long term versus short term available rentals. In addition, if there are deed restrictions, the agent should provide the prospective buyer with the necessary information.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Thinking About Selling Your Own Home? Think Again – Why You’ll Want to Work with a Real Estate Agent

Thinking About Selling Your Own Home? Think Again - Why You'll Want to Work with a Real Estate AgentThere is no requirement for a homeowner to work with a real estate agent when selling a property, and many homeowners consider saving themselves the cost of a real estate agent’s commission fee in an effort to reduce costs and to keep more money in their pocket from the sale. While this may seem to make sense, the fact is that a real estate agent’s services have true value to you, and there are several key reasons why you want to work with a real estate agent when selling your home.

Assistance With Pricing The Home

Before you initially list your home for sale, you must decide what a fair and reasonable price is. You may actively compare price per square foot data with other homes in your community to arrive at a reasonable estimate, but there are other factors that come into play. For example, one and two-story homes will have a different price per square foot even in the same neighborhood, and property condition and layout will also play a role. Pricing your home right from the start will generate immediate interest and will help you to sell your home more quickly.

Marketing Expertise And Services

It is not enough to simply list your home for sale, and you must also actively market your home for sale. A real estate agent does much more to market your property than simply place a sign in the front yard. Everything from using online marketing avenues and mobile apps services to hosting open houses are often included in an agent’s services, and these often take time, effort and financial resources to execute. These are often included in the commission that you pay to your agent.

Skilled Negotiations Services

Negotiating with a buyer and buyer’s agent on your own is possible, but you may find yourself making impulsive, emotion-driven decisions. A real estate agent is skilled with negotiations and can help you to remain clear-headed and focused on your goals during negotiations. Keep in mind that there are multiple times throughout the process when you may need negotiate with the buyer.

The Need To Pay The Buyer’s Agent

You may not save as much money as you might think on your real estate agent fees by listing your home on your own. Keep in mind that the seller typically will pay for both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent fees. Even if you list your property for sale on your own, you will still be responsible for paying the buyer’s agent fees.

The bottom line is that most real estate agents work hard for their clients, and they bring true value to the transaction. If you have been thinking about listing your home, you may consider speaking with an agent about the services that he or she can provide to you.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home Inspection

Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home InspectionAs a home buyer, you may go through a number of different steps to ensure that the property that you purchase is in great condition. For example, you may complete an initial walk-through or even several home tours before you make an offer. You may also order a property inspection and even negotiate for the seller to make some repairs on your behalf.

A day or two before your closing date, you may set up a final home inspection to ensure that the home is still in the same condition as the initial walk-through. In most cases, there will be no problems with the final inspection. However, in the event that there is a problem with the final inspection, you will need to know how to handle it.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent

As a first step, you should discuss the issues with your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may have some strategies or ideas that can be used to help you overcome the issue in the best possible way. Minor issues may be resolved with a last minute negotiation to the sales contract. More significant issues may need to be rectified prior to closing, and you may need to delay the closing by a few days or longer until any issues are resolved.

Consider Walking Away

It may be rare for a property to have issues during the final home inspection, and most issues that do arise at this late stage in the buying process may be resolved through negotiations between the buyer and seller. However, in the event that the seller plays hardball and refuses to work with you to resolve the matter, or in the event that the issue is so significant that you are not comfortable with it, it may be an option to walk away from the property.

In most sales contracts, wording is present that requires the property to be delivered to the buyer in the same condition as it was when the contract was signed less general wear and tear. Walking away may not be ideal, but it may be the best option in some cases.

Making a final home inspection is not a requirement, but it is advisable. It can ensure that the home your purchase is in the same condition as it was when you did the initial walk-through, and you can apply these tips if you discover that the home is not in the same condition.

Posted in Market Outlook

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.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Selling a Large Family Home? How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Family Buyers

Selling a Large Family Home? How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Family BuyersSelling a large house requires showing buyers its potential as a place where they can raise their families, enjoy space to grow, and make it their own. Preparing a large house can be a big task. There are more rooms to clear out, more square footage to get in tip-top shape, and more accumulated belongings to sort through. However, a large house also has strong points that appeal to buyers looking for a spacious home.

Clear the Clutter

Take a look at whether the house feels spacious or crammed with years of debris. Big houses have so much space that many families store more and more things. Therefore, sellers should throw out what they don’t need or want, consider putting old treasures in temporary storage, and leave closets and cabinets with plenty of empty space so buyers can envision their own belongings there.

Define Family Spaces

When children leave the nest, some couples turn bedrooms into storage space, work areas or other rooms. To sell the home, they should consider restoring bedrooms to that use. If the house is advertised as a four- or five- or even six-bedroom house, put a bed and a dresser in that many rooms. Make the large living area look like a family room by removing anything else. If there is a garage for two or more cars, remove other items.

Update Key Rooms And Spaces

Consider updating key rooms to appeal to young families. A Realtor® can give advice on whether the kitchen, bathrooms or living areas are outdated by today’s standards and whether renovation would increase the sale price.

Make Any Necessary Repairs

Families used to living with a sticky window or tarnished faucet should go through each room and make basic repairs. A fresh coat of paint is one of the least expensive ways to instantly freshen up any room.

Improve Curb Appeal

Many buyers won’t even walk in the door if they don’t like what they see when they drive by. Remove overgrown shrubs. Get rid of weeds. Add flowers. Fix the mailbox and check the condition of the front door.

Following these steps will show off the best attributes of a big house and help buyers envision it as a place for their own families. Call your real estate agent today for an assessment of how to prepare your home for today’s family buyers.