Posted in Home Buyer Tips

5, 10, 20 Percent or More? How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You Need

5, 10, 20 Percent or More? How to Determine How Big of a Down Payment You NeedWhether or not you’re new to real estate, there’s little doubt that you’ve heard the term down payment as it relates to purchasing a home. There’s a lot of different information out there in regards to how much this figure should be and it can be hard to determine exactly what the importance of this payment is. If you’re trying to determine the ideal amount to put down, here are some things to consider.

Explaining Down Payments And Why They’re Important

The down payment is probably one of the largest single payments you’ll make for anything, and this is why so many people save for years. When you buy a home, the down payment is the amount of money that goes into the initial home investment, and this is taken off of the cost of the house. In essence, while this money qualifies as an asset, it is tied up in paying off the total cost of your home.

The Differing Amounts For Down Payments

It’s often the case that many figures are thrown around in regards to the ideal down payment percentage, and they generally vary from 3-20% of the home’s cost. If you are paying a percentage on the low side of the scale, this can unfortunately mean that you will have fewer mortgage options and will be stuck with an increased interest rate. The amount you should pay depends on your financial health and purchasing commitment, but the larger the down payment is, the more minimal your monthly payments will be.

Deciding The Perfect Percentage

Saving up 20% of a home’s total price may seem like a lot of time and effort, but this can be the ideal amount to put down. In addition to lowered monthly payments and a better interest rate, you’ll also be able to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is required if you put down less than 20%. There is no right answer to the question of how much to put towards a down payment, but you may end up spending less in the long run if you can invest more in the beginning.

There are many figures thrown around when it comes to real estate, but the amount of a down payment should be economically feasible for you and enable you to make your monthly payments consistently. If you’re planning on purchasing soon and are looking for home options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Keep Trying

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Keep TryingIf you’re in the market for a new home, you’ll most likely need a mortgage in order to afford it. But for some home buyers, getting a mortgage isn’t easy. Banks and other lenders are often hesitant to lend money to certain consumers, often for good reason.

But sometimes, lenders’ reasons for declining you aren’t entirely valid. That’s why, if you’ve been denied for a mortgage, you’ll want to keep trying to get mortgage funds. Here are three factors that can influence the likelihood of approval on the second try.

A Second Appraisal Might Change Your Circumstances

Sometimes, a mortgage lender will deny a loan because the property value of the home in question isn’t large enough to back the loan. If your mortgage lender declines you because of a poor loan-to-value ratio, getting a second appraisal could help. A lot of appraisal companies will give wildly different appraisals on the same property, with some brokers reporting valuation differences of up to $1.3 million.

Bear in mind that you cannot get two appraisals through the same lender, so if you choose to have the home appraised a second time, you’ll need to find a new lender.

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report Can Work Wonders

What’s on your credit report will have a large role in determining whether or not you get the mortgage you want. If you’ve been denied because of entries on your credit report, you’ll want to take every step possible to correct those report issues. If you’ve been more than 30 days late on a payment in the past, it will show on your credit report and affect your score – but by calling your creditor and asking them to remove the negative, you can bring your credit report back into good standing.

You’ll also want to pay off any and all past due balances as soon as possible. If you can’t pay what you owe in full, you’ll want to negotiate with your creditor to pay part of the amount. This will result in the debt showing on your credit report as “paid as agreed”, which will boost your credit score.

An Extra Down Payment May Be A Good Idea

Sometimes, a lender will decline a borrower if the borrower is asking for too much money. If you’re pursuing a mortgage worth more than 95% of the property value, you’ll probably be declined. But if you make an extra down payment, you can lower your loan amount – which may incline your lender to approve your application.

If you’ve been declined for a mortgage, don’t give up. As you can see there are steps you can take to get approved.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

3 ‘Must Know’ Pieces of Advice for First-time Home Buyers

3 'Must Know' Pieces of Advice for First-time Home BuyersWhen delving into the realities of home ownership, there can be many factors involved that make it difficult to determine what you need to know and what can wait until later. If you happen to be a first-time buyer who’s looking for the best tips for purchasing a home, look no further than the following three pointers to set you on the right path.

Get Familiar With Your Credit Score

If you haven’t looked at your credit report for a long time, it can be a daunting task to request this information. Fortunately, your credit report is free from AnnualCreditReport.com and it will prepare you for what lenders are going to see. By taking this important step, you will be able to determine any delinquent accounts or balances owing that have gone to collections, and hopefully have these cleaned up before they can become a problem for your mortgage.

Determine The Price You Can Pay

While you may have a price in mind for what you’re willing to pay for a home, it’s important to determine your debt-to-income ratio before putting in an offer. Your DTI ratio can be determined by taking your total monthly costs, adding it to what you would be paying for a home and dividing it by your monthly gross income. If it’s a housing price that will work for you, this amount should equate to less than 43%.

Organize Your Housing History

If you have a good history as a tenant, the next step will probably be the easiest of all, but it’s very important in order to prove you’re a responsible candidate for home ownership. Once you’ve acquired a Verification of Rent from any applicable landlord in the previous year, you’ll want to ensure that you have money in the bank. While RRSP’s can make a good impression, make sure you have liquid assets available so you can convince the lender your home investment is manageable.

There are a lot of things to know when it comes to buying a home, but if you’re a first time buyer the most important thing is to ensure that your finances are organized and that you’re not diving into more house than you can afford. By taking the time to determine your debt-to-income ratio and looking into your credit, you can ensure a positive first-time buying experience. If you’re wondering about homes for sale in your area, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 11, 2016

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreThe first week of 2016 was quiet concerning housing and mortgage related news, but reports on construction spending and several labor-related reports were released. Construction spending is connected to housing markets as it provides evidence of builder confidence and also future housing supply. Labor market trends provide a sense of economic performance in general and can influence potential buyers on decisions about buying or not buying homes.

Construction Spending Dips in November

According to the Commerce Department, construction spending dropped by 0.40 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual reading of $1.12 trillion. November’s reading was short of the expected reading of 0.90 percent, which was based on October’s original reading of a 1.00 percent increase in construction spending. October’s reading was later revised downward to 0.30 percent. November’s construction spending was 10.50 percent higher year-over-year.

While private construction spending decreased by 0.20 percent in November, it was up 12.10 percent year-over-year due to housing construction. Housing markets have been squeezed due to consistently short supplies of available homes. New construction is seen as an important way to ease the bottleneck as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for homes to come on the market.

Residential construction was up 0.30 percent in November and increased 10.80 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped four basis points to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.26 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.09 percent. Last week’s discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15 year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New weekly jobless claims fell to 277,000 as compared to expectations of 275.000 and the prior week’s reading of 287,000 first-time claims. Fewer first-time claims for jobless benefits point to stronger economic conditions in general as evidenced by expanding job markets. National unemployment held steady 5.00 percent, which mirrored expectations and the same as November’s reading.

Labor Department: 292,000 New Jobs Added in December

According to the Labor Department, 292,000 new jobs were added in December, which resulted in the fifth consecutive year where jobs grew by 2 million or more year-over-year. Upward revisions to jobs reports for October and November supported stronger economic conditions. October’s reading was adjusted from 298,000 new jobs to 307,000 new jobs; November’s original reading for new jobs was raised from 211,000 jobs added to 252.000 jobs added.

Last week’s positive jobs reports were released against a backdrop of market volatility due to fears that the Chinese economy is slowing. As the second largest global economy, China’s economy could influence global financial markets and economic conditions if it experiences serious difficulties.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports on job openings, retail sales and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. In addition to reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, a reading on consumer sentiment will round out this week’s news.

Posted in Around The Home

Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy Audit

Greenify Your Home with Our Guide to Conducting a DIY Energy AuditThe idea of conducting an energy audit on your home might seem like something complicated that should be left to the experts, but there are ways for you to make your home a little greener without consulting anybody. Instead of having someone else do the work, here are a few simple ways for you to inspect your home and green up its energy use.

Do A Candle Test Of Exterior Walls

Since cold air coming in from outside your home can impact your energy use significantly, do the simple test of taking a candle on a tour of your home to determine if there are any drafts. Ensure that you check all of the windows, doors and exterior areas where outside air can gain access; if your candle blows out or wavers, this is a surefire sign that a fix-up is needed. If you’ve located an area where air is getting in, you may need to caulk it or add insulation to remedy the problem.

Carefully Inspect The Attic

Since we rarely venture up to the attic, it can be one of the last places that we would look for a draft, but it can be one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to insulation. Before heading up, put on a mask and some work gloves to protect yourself from the dusty surfaces, and lift up the insulation to inspect for any spaces where air could be accessing your home. If you’ve noticed gaps or places that lack coverage, fill them with additional insulation and seal it with expanding insulation for added coverage.

Don’t Take Ducts For Granted

Since ducts are made of thin metal and can easily lose heat if they are damaged or unclean, it’s important to inspect them for holes and make sure they are joined sufficiently so air is not escaping. If you’ve found an issue, you will want to replace or insulate them more effectively so that energy loss can be prevented and does not impact energy use throughout your entire home.

There are plenty of ways that your home can lose energy – from the ducts through to the exterior walls – but there are simple things you can do to test its efficiency and improve your energy use. If you happen to be doing some minor renovations so you can put your home on the market soon, you may want to contact your trusted real estate agent for more information.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Welcoming Strangers: the Pros and Cons of Hosting Open Houses During the Home Selling Process

Welcoming Strangers: the Pros and Cons of Hosting Open Houses During the Home Selling ProcessWhether you’re ready to put your home on the market or you’re preparing yourself for the ins and outs of the process, you’ve probably heard about open houses. While open houses can offer an easy, instant way for many interested parties to view your house, there can also be downsides to this type of showing. If you’re considering whether or not to stage an open house, here are some insights into what it may mean.

Potential Buyers Or Open House Aficionados?

An open house will mean that many people can see your house at the same time, which can save the time and energy that goes into multiple viewings, but open houses can also attract many people that have no intention to buy. With so many people interested in the interior of a home or the houses in a particular neighborhood, open houses can actually attract more curiosity than actual offers. While an open house can be a great way to create interest, private viewings can be more indicative of how interested the viewer really is.

Living In Your Home Or Merely Showing It

The effort that goes into properly staging a home for public viewing can be quite considerable depending on how long your house is on the market. While an open house will get many viewers in and out on the same day, a bevy of private viewings can mean that a lot more energy will be spent cleaning up your home, which may make you feel like you live in a show home. It’s worth considering how much time you want to spend staging your home before deciding if an open house will work for you.

A Private Home Or A Public Place

You may be leaving your old, familiar home behind soon enough, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not a place of refuge and privacy from the outside world. It’s worth realizing that an open house means many people you don’t know will be walking through your home and viewing your possessions, which can be quite disconcerting for some people. This may be acceptable if the benefits outweigh the risks, but if your home is too special a space you may want to consider another avenue.

Open houses can be an important part of getting your house out on the market, but whether or not this option will work for you is dependent on many factors. If you’re wondering about all of the options for viewings and putting your home on the market, you will want to contact your trusted real estate professional for more insight.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Understanding Mortgage Pre-Approvals and How to Avoid Being Declined for One

Understanding Mortgage Pre-approvals and How to Avoid Being Declined for OneThe mortgage process is a long and complicated one, with a number of similar-sounding terms that can easily confuse first-time homebuyers. A pre-approval is not the same thing as a pre-qualification, and it’s important to understand everything that goes into a pre-approval. Being declined during the pre-approval process means you’ll have a hard time getting the funds you need to buy your home, so it’s important that you know what the process is going to look like before going into it.

How does a pre-approval work, and how can you make sure you won’t be declined? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is A Mortgage Pre-Approval?

A mortgage pre-approval is a step that happens somewhere near the start of the home buying process. Being pre-approved means you have a preliminary loan commitment from a mortgage lender. Pre-approval isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage, but rather, a statement that if all goes according to plan, your lender will most likely issue a mortgage to you.

Pre-approvals can make the mortgage process shorter and easier, but they’re not legally binding. If you later find a better mortgage through another lender, you don’t have to take out a mortgage through the lender that pre-approved you.

What Do You Need To Be Pre-Approved?

In order to be pre-approved, your lender will need to evaluate your finances and your ability to pay for your mortgage. You’ll want to meet with your lender and provide them with bank and creditor documents that clearly show your income, your assets, and your debts. You can expect your lender to run a credit check on you in order to determine your employment status and verify that you’ve accurately reported your finances.

If you meet your lender’s criteria, you’ll receive a commitment letter that states what size of a mortgage your lender is willing to give you.

Red Flags: Sure Signs That You’re Destined To Be Declined

You can be declined for a mortgage pre-approval for any number of reasons. If you have a poor credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio, or a low or unstable income, you likely won’t meet the lender’s minimum borrower requirements – and you’ll be declined. To avoid being declined for a pre-approval, you’ll want to ensure you always pay your bills on time, negotiate with your creditors to pay off your debts, or boost your income.

A mortgage pre-approval can help you to narrow your home search and access a mortgage loan. That’s why it’s important to ensure you don’t get declined during the pre-approval.

Posted in Around The Home

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New Condo

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New CondoThere’s a good chance if your children have recently moved out that your home is feeling a lot larger than it used to, and perhaps you’re re-considering the extra space. If downsizing to a condo is on your mind and you’re weighing the benefits of this kind of move, here are some that might make it worth the switch in size.

A Little Extra Money

With the additional money you should be making off the sale of your home, there’s a good chance that downsizing may provide you with extra assets to sock away for retirement, travel or whatever your heart fancies. If you don’t need the money, it might not matter, but in the retirement years a little extra can be of benefit for many.

Minimize Your Costs

Usually, there are many utility and heating costs that go along with home ownership, but by moving into a condo you can alleviate many monthly payments instantly. Instead of paying for every utility, condo living can help to simplify and minimize the amount you owe each month.

Free Up Your Retirement

Often times it may seem like home ownership is the dream, but many people approaching retirement would rather have the flexibility of renting. Because there are limited responsibilities with a rental, it means you can spend the winter months in Mexico without having to worry about who will take care of your home.

A Condominium Community

The great thing about many condo buildings is that they are built close to amenities like grocery stores, drycleaners and restaurants, so you don’t have to worry about venturing far out. It might not seem important if you’re used to driving to the store to make your purchases, but being able to walk might make you a convert to a different way of life.

Forget About The Maintenance

If you’ve gotten used to all of the maintenance that goes into a home, downsizing can be a great relief in terms of the time you’ll be saving. Instead of a lawn to cut or a multi-level home you’re responsible for, you’ll be able to rely on the building manager to do this for you.

It can be comforting to have a home you’ve bought and paid for that belongs to you, but by downsizing you may be able to save on time and significantly lower your living costs. If you’re considering purchasing a condo and would like to learn more about your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate agents for more information.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 04, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 04 20162015 said farewell with reports on Case Shiller home prices, pending home sales, and consumer confidence. The details:

Case-Shiller Home Prices Post Double Digit Gains in October

According to Case-Shiller’s 20 City Home Price Index, Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California tied for the highest home price gains in October with year-over-year home price gains of 10.90 percent. Lowest annual price gains were posted by Chicago, Illinois at 1.30 percent followed by Washington, D.C with a year-over-year –reading of 1.70 percent. Home prices rose at their fastest rate since August 2014 according to Case-Shiller.

Month-to-month home prices showed mixed results in October. Miami, Florida posted the highest month-to-month gain of 0.70 percent. San Francisco, California posted a gain of 0.60 percent; Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon posted month-to-month home price gains of 0.60 percent.

Cities posting month-to-month declines in home prices included Chicago, Illinois where home prices declined 0.70 percent, Cleveland Ohio and San Diego, California posted month-to-month declines of 0.40 percent, Washington, DC home prices dropped 0.30 percent month-to-month. Home prices in Boston, Massachusetts and Las Vegas, Nevada were unchanged in October from September readings.

While Case-Shiller’s 20-City Index remains 11 to 13 percent below 2006 peak home prices, the index is approximately 36 percent higher than lowest home prices posted in 2012.

Pending Home Sales Dip in November

According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dipped 0.90 percent in November after posting a gain of 0.20 percent in October. Analysts expected a 1.0 percent gain in pending sales for November. Pending home sales peaked in May 2015, but short supplies of available homes and rising prices have caused home sales to slow. Pending home sales are defined as homes for which a sales contract is signed, but aren’t yet closed. November’s pending sales were 2.70 percent higher than for October and represented the 15th consecutive month of annual gains in pending home sales.

Regional results for November’s pending sales were mixed. The Northeast reported a reading of 91.8, which was nearly three points lower than October’s reading. The Western region posted a reading of 100.4, a decline of nearly 6 points. The Midwestern region posted a gain of one point to a reading of 104.9. The South had the strongest reading for pending home sales in November with a reading of 119.9, which represented an increase of 1.50 percent.

The National Association of Realtors® expects sales of pre-owned homes to top out at 5.25 million for 2015, which would be the highest reading since 2006. The national median home price for pre-owned homes is $220,700, which is six percent higher than in November 2014.

Mortgage Rates, Consumer Confidence Rise

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.01 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose two basis points to 3.08 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.6, 0.6 and 0.4 percent respectively.

On a positive note for year-end, consumer confidence increased to a reading of 96.5 in December as compared to November’s upwardly revised reading of 92.6 and an expected index reading of 93.50. Analysts were relieved to see increasing consumer confidence after an unexpected decline in November.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, the government’s Non-farm Payrolls report and ADP’s payroll reports. Labor reports act as potential indicators of future housing markets as steady employment is typically a major factor in home-buying decisions.