Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trying to Save on Your Closing Costs? Here Are Three Tips That Can Help Lower Them

Whether you’re about to close on a lovely new house for your growing family or a stylish beachfront condo so you can retire close to the ocean, one thing is certain: you’re going to face a variety of closing costs. Insurance, taxes, financing fees, title fees, attorney fees and other costs will need to be paid, and if you’re a savvy buyer you’ll do everything you can to save on them.
In today’s post we’ll share three quick tips that can help you reduce your closing costs when you buy your next home.

Tip #1: Include Closing Costs in Your Negotiations with the Seller
As closing costs are a part of the real estate transaction they’re an excellent item to include in your negotiations with the seller.
For example, if you consider that closing costs might be 3 or 4 percent of the home’s value you can try to bring the seller’s asking price down to get those costs included. Or, you may be able to entice the seller with the prospect of a quick sale if they are willing to pay your closing costs in order to get you to sign on the dotted line.

Tip #2: Compare All of Your Mortgage Options
If you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage advisor to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.
You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

Tip #3: Ask About Every Fee You’re Required to Pay
Finally don’t forget that you’re the customer and that you have the right to know about each one of your closing costs and why you’re expected to pay them. Being informed about all of the various items in your transaction will help ensure that you’re not paying something you could have avoided.
There you have it – three excellent tips for reducing your closing costs when you purchase your next home. For more information and advice about mortgage closing costs and how to best manage them, be sure to get in touch with your local mortgage professional.

Monday, December 15, 2014

First Time Buyers: Understanding How Property Taxes Work and What You Can Expect to Pay

Are you about to buy a house or condo for the first time? Congratulations!

Owning your own piece of real estate is a liberating experience and one that will provide you with the foundation to build your personal wealth and equity. Once you own your own home you’ll be responsible for a variety of new costs, including property taxes which are assessed by your local government to pay for municipal services.


It All Begins With a Local Property Tax Assessment
As mentioned above, local governments assess property taxes as a means for paying for police officers, fire fighting services, road maintenance and the other various costs that come with running a town or city. Whether you’re buying a house, a townhouse or a condo, the property that your home sits on is inside of an area known as an “assessment area”.

When the local government determines what your local tax levy or tax rate will be, they will assess your home based on the real estate market value of similar homes in the area. You can multiply your tax rate by the assessed value of your home to determine how much you’ll owe in property tax.

Property Taxes As Part of Your Closing Costs
When you close on your new home you’ll have to pay property taxes, and your real estate agent will help you to understand how much these taxes will be and how they will be paid. In most cities and counties you’ll pay a pro-rated amount of property tax that covers the time span from the date you purchase the home until the end of the year, after which time you’ll be paying your full assessed rate.

Don’t Forget Your Overall Tax Picture
Finally, don’t forget that property taxes can be factored in to the rest of your overall tax picture. Check with your accountant or another financial professional to determine whether or not you can write your property taxes off against your income tax to save some additional money. There are numerous tax benefits to owning a home, so it’s best to start using them from day one.

As with all other taxes, property taxes are a fact of life that every homeowner faces. When you’re ready to buy a new home and to learn more about how property taxes will affect your purchase, contact your mortgage professional for expert advice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Understanding Mortgage Insurance and the Difference Between FHA, VA and USDA Mortgages

Are you thinking about using mortgage financing to buy a new home? If so, you’ve likely heard about mortgage insurance policies requirements and you may be wondering how they will affect you. In today’s blog post we’ll explore mortgage insurance and explain the difference between conventional, FHA, VA and USDA mortgage insurance policies.

How Does Private Mortgage Insurance or “PMI” Work?
While there are a number of reasons that your lender may require mortgage insurance, in general you’ll be required to purchase a conventional PMI policy if you are putting less than 20 percent of the home’s value in as a down payment. Another way your lender might explain this is that you have a “loan to value” or “LTV” ratio of higher than 80 percent, which means that the amount of your loan divided by the value of your home is higher than 0.8.

The cost of your private mortgage insurance policy will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, FICO credit score, the cost of your home and more. Generally speaking you’ll be required to pay from one-half to one percent of the cost of your monthly mortgage payment in insurance fees. Once your LTV ratio moves below 80 percent you may no longer be required to pay for PMI.

How Does VA Mortgage Insurance Work?
If you qualify for a mortgage from Veterans’ Affairs you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t be required to pay for mortgage insurance. In some instances you actually won’t be required to pay a down payment either, meaning that you may be able to borrow up to $400,000 to purchase a home without having to invest a cent of your own capital.

How Does USDA Mortgage Insurance Work?
Did you know that the Department of Agriculture runs a mortgage program? The USDA Rural Development mortgage offering is government-backed and like the VA mortgage program above you can finance 100 percent of the cost of your home without investing a down payment. However, unlike the VA program you’ll be required to pay for mortgage insurance. Currently the annual mortgage insurance premium on USDA loans is 0.5 percent.

How Does FHA Mortgage Insurance Work?
Finally, don’t forget about the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage program. If you qualify for a FHA-backed mortgage, you’ll be paying about 1.35 percent in mortgage insurance premiums if you make the minimum down payment.

As you can see, there is a bit of a learning curve involved with fully understanding how all of the different types of mortgage insurance work. To learn more about mortgages and how insurance can benefit you, contact your local mortgage professional today.

Monday, December 8, 2014

You Ask, We Answer: How to Choose Between Expanding Your Current Home and Buying a New One

Does your home feel like it’s starting to burst at the seams? Many homeowners across the country can relate to this feeling having bought a home only to run out of space due to a growing family or for other reasons. Let’s take a quick look at a few questions that will help you to determine whether buying a new home or expanding your current home is the best choice when you’re in need of some extra space.


Why Are You in Need of More Space?
The first question you’ll need to answer is… “why?” Are you running out of space because you’ve decided to start a family and have another child on the way? Or perhaps you’ve decided to start a business out of your home and you’ve outgrown the small room you had set aside as your office? Whatever the case, a major renovation or a move to a new home are both major decisions and ones that shouldn’t be made lightly. Sit down with your family and consider why you need more space and what you would do with a larger home if you had one.


How Much Space Do You Need?
“How much space” is another consideration that you’ll need to make in order to come to the best decision between expansion and buying a new home. If you find that your needs are perfectly suited except for that missing bedroom you may want to undergo a renovation. Conversely, if you find that you could use at least 2 or 3 new rooms and some extra room in the garage, you may want to start shopping for a new home.

Note that expanding your home to add an extra bedroom or to finish the basement will provide a limited amount of additional space – space which may end up feeling constrained later if your family or needs continue to grow. If you’re thinking bigger over the long term, you’ll likely be better served in finding a larger home that has extra room that you can grow into.

Other Factors for Consideration
If you’re thinking about expanding your current home you’ll want to consider how this will impact the other rooms in the house. Are you going to feel the need to renovate every room once that new bedroom is added? If so, is renovating a wise investment or should you simply move on to a newer home?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The LTV Ratio: How ‘Loan-to-Value’ Works and Why You Need to Understand This Ratio

Are you in the market for a new home? If you plan on using mortgage financing to buy your next home you’ve likely heard the phrase “loan-to-value” or the acronym “LTV” before. Let’s take a quick look at the loan-to-value ratio including why it’s important, how to calculate it and how it can affect your mortgage.

What is the Loan-to-Value or LTV Ratio?
In short, the LTV ratio is a number that compares how much money you owe against your home with its resale value in the marketplace. A low LTV ratio indicates that you have far more equity in your home than you owe in mortgage payments; conversely, a high LTV ratio indicates that you owe almost as much as your home is worth.

Calculating your LTV ratio is easy. Simply divide the amount that you have (or will have) remaining in your mortgage by your home’s value. For example, if you own a home worth $250,000 and you still owe $150,000 on your mortgage, the calculation would be $150,000 divided by $250,000, which gives you a LTV ratio of 0.6 or 60 percent.

Why is the LTV Ratio Important?
Your LTV ratio is important for a number of reasons. First, your mortgage lender will use this figure as part of their risk calculation when they assess your financial suitability for your mortgage. If you’re only putting 5 percent of the purchase price in as a down payment you’ll have a LTV ratio of 95 percent, which is a more risky loan than one with a LTV ratio of 30 percent and thus will almost certainly come with a higher interest rate.

If you have a LTV ratio higher than 80 percent and you’re getting a mortgage from a conventional lender you’ll also be required to pay for private mortgage insurance or “PMI”. Although PMI rates generally sound quite low – in the neighborhood of 0.5 to 1 percent – they can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly mortgage payment. Note that PMI may not apply to you if you’re seeking out a government-backed mortgage from Veteran’s Affairs, the USDA or the FHA.

While the LTV ratio might seem simple, this number can affect your mortgage in a variety of ways. Contact your local mortgage advisor today to learn more about the LTV ratio and to have your questions answered by an experienced professional.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Down Payment: Everything You Need to Know About Your Down Payment on a New Home

Whether you’re just starting to shop for a new home or you’ve found the perfect house and are crafting your offer, if you’re taking out a mortgage to help cover your real estate purchase you’ve likely given some thought to your down payment.
In today’s blog post we’ll explore the topic of down payments and share how the amount you put down on your home will affect your mortgage.

How Your Down Payment Affects Your Mortgage
As you know, your mortgage is essentially a large long-term loan that is paid back with interest over a set time period. If you put a large down payment against the purchase, you will not only reduce the amount that you’ll need to pay back, but you’ll also reduce the lender’s risk and this may allow them to provide you with lower interest rates.
Conversely, if you can’t place very much down on your home and you’re left borrowing as much as you can you may find that your mortgage comes with higher interest rates or that some mortgage lenders refuse your business entirely.

The Gold Standard: 20% of the Purchase Price
For the vast majority of homeowners it’s expected that they will be able to contribute at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. For example, if you are buying a $200,000 house you’ll need to have at least $40,000 available for your down payment. Note that the 20 percent figure isn’t a hard requirement; some mortgage lenders will be willing to approve you with less, but you may be subject to private mortgage insurance, higher interest rates and more.

Saving Up Your Down Payment
Depending on your financial situation and the cost of your home you may find that saving up 20 percent of the purchase price to put toward a down payment places a strain on your finances. If you still have a year or more before you’re ready to jump into the real estate market, consider putting some money aside each month that can be used for a down payment. If you receive any lump sum payments like a tax return, save this in your down payment fund as well.

As you can see, your down payment is one of the more important considerations you’ll have to make when buying your home with a mortgage. If you have questions about mortgages or down payments, be sure to call your local mortgage professional today as they’ll be able to share their guidance and expertise to help you make the best financial decision.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Refinancing Your Mortgage: Understanding the Various Types of Refinancing

Whether you’ve been thinking about ways that you can draw on your home equity to fund a renovation project or you want to take advantage of low interest rates before they rise again, refinancing your mortgage is an excellent option.
In today’s blog post we’ll introduce mortgage refinancing and discuss a few of the ways that you can use this tool to help accomplish your financial goals.

Cash-In and Cash-Out Refinancing
Many homeowners refinance their mortgage in order to take some of the home equity out for other purposes. In a “cash-out” refinancing, you take out a new mortgage loan which is greater in value than your current loan. After paying off the existing mortgage you’ll receive a check for the difference which can then be reinvested in home upgrades or put to use elsewhere in your financial portfolio. You may also be able to get a better interest rate in this type of refinancing, saving additional money over the long term.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your home is currently worth but still want to take advantage of lower interest rates? If so, “cash-in” refinancing is an option that can help you to avoid the mortgage insurance costs that you may be facing when you refinance. As the name implies, cash-in refinancing will provide you with a loan that is for less than the amount that you currently owe, so you’ll need to add “cash-in” to make up the difference.

Home Affordable Refinance Program or “HARP” Refinancing
If you find that you’re unable to refinance your mortgage as the value of your home has declined, the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance or “HARP” Program may be an option. HARP was developed to assist homeowners in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the resulting instability that was caused in the real estate and mortgage markets. If you have been making your mortgage payments on time, have a mortgage guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and your current “Loan to Value” ratio is greater than 80% it’s likely that you’ll qualify for HARP refinancing.

The above are just a few of the ways that you can refinance a mortgage to better suit your needs and financial goals. Contact your local mortgage professional today to learn more about refinancing and to discuss how you can tap in to the home equity that you’ve built up over time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Four Ways You Can Enhance Your Home’s Value Before You List It for Sale

Whether you’ve decided it’s time for an upgrade or you’re moving on to a new city, if you’re selling your home you may be wondering how you can boost its value before listing it up for sale.
In today’s blog post we’ll share four ways that you can spend a bit of time and money upgrading your home before it hits the local real estate market.

Spruce Up Your Landscaping
You’ll want your home to make a great first impression, and as such a great place to start is by sprucing up your lawn, gardens and other landscape features. Your grass should be a healthy green, free of weeds and freshly trimmed.

If you can, look to add seasonal flowers in your front gardens as this can add a bit of color to your home. Keep any shrubs or trees trimmed away from the home so that buyers can get a good look.

Apply A Fresh Coat Of Paint
Another excellent way to increase your home’s “curb appeal” is by applying a fresh coat of paint to the house, the trim around the windows and the front door.

Of course, painting a house is a big job so this might be one that is best left to a team of professionals. For added effect, replace the fixtures on the front door and pick up new house numbers.

Upgrade Your Kitchen Appliances
Many buyers will focus intently on your kitchen and the condition of everything from your flooring to your cupboards. If you have an older refrigerator or stove you’ll want to replace those with newer stainless-steel models.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have quality countertops – if you’re replacing them, consider going with granite as it’s popular with younger buyers.

Install A New Set Of Bathroom Fixtures
Finally, if you haven’t renovated your bathroom recently you’ll want to invest in modernizing your faucets, mirrors and other fixtures. The decor of your bathroom should match that in the rest of your home, but also stand out in its own unique way.

If you have an old bathtub with stained porcelain, consider replacing it with a glass-enclosed waterfall shower. Don’t forget about your light fixtures; if you find the bathroom is a bit dark, replace these with something that adds brightness.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Did You Know That Your FICO Score Can Drastically Affect Your Mortgage? Here’s Why

Are you about to apply for a mortgage loan in order to buy a home? If so, you may be curious about your credit score and how this might impact your financing.
Let’s take a quick look at how FICO credit scores can affect your mortgage and share a couple of ways that you can boost your score to ensure your application is approved.

What is a FICO Score?
The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is the country’s leading producer of credit scoring information and is the primary source that most lenders will check to assess how much risk you present. FICO combines information from credit bureaus such as TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and produces a score ranging from 300 to 850.

The higher your FICO score is, the better your credit history and the lower the risk you present to lenders. If you have a score above 750 you can expect that most lenders will offer you a mortgage and likely a very good interest rate. If you have a score below 620 or 630 you may find it challenging to get approved and below 500 it will be almost impossible.

How Does a FICO Score Affect My Mortgage?
Your FICO score will affect you in two main ways. First, as mentioned above your FICO score will help to determine whether or not you are approved for a mortgage. Second, you’ll find that the interest rates offered to you by various lenders will change based on your FICO score. An individual with a score of 800 and very clean credit presents much lower risk than someone with a score of 500, and thus a higher score generally means a lower rate.

How Can I Boost My FICO Score?
If you find that your credit score is a bit low and you’re concerned that it will have a negative effect on your mortgage application there are a few steps you can take. First, get a full copy of your FICO score and credit history so you can see who is reporting to the credit bureaus and what information they are providing. You may find that there are mistakes or old items that have not yet been removed which you can then challenge to have taken off of your credit report.

While your FICO score can certainly impact your mortgage and your interest rate you shouldn’t let a low score hold you back from applying. Contact your local mortgage professional today to discuss your options and to determine whether or not your credit will cause you to have any issues in securing a mortgage to pay for your new home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Buying a Vacation Home? A Quick Guide to Renting Out Your Second Home to Generate Income

Are you thinking about buying a second home to spend some time in when you’re on vacation? Whether you’re picking up a small house near the beach or you’re looking at a ski-in/ski-out condo at your favorite ski resort, if you’re only going to be in the home for short periods each year you may want to consider renting the property out the rest of the time to generate some additional income.
In this post we’ll share a few tips for getting your property ready to rent to short-term visitors and how to get things started.

Preparing Your Home For Use As A Rental
Before you list your vacation property up for rent you’ll need to get it ready for your first tenants. Spend some time walking through the home to determine what’s missing and what might need to be upgraded.
Do you have a few spare sets of sheets and towels? Are all of the kitchen appliances in top condition? If you’re going to be supplying soap, shampoo and other toiletries, are you fully stocked?
Remember – your goal should be to impress each and every client to ensure they leave a positive review and come back again in the future.

Hiring Housekeeping And Property Management Services
Since you likely don’t live in the area around your vacation home, you’ll want to contract out the cleaning and management to local vendors who specialize in managing vacation properties. It should be relatively easy to find these companies with a quick web search, but be sure to ask for recent references so that you can rest easy knowing your home is in good hands.

Listing Your Rental On Popular Websites
Once your home is prepared and you have your team lined up, it’s time to list your property on websites such as VRBO, HomeAway and AirBnB. Browse through other local listings to see how your competition markets themselves and to get an idea of how much you should be charging on a nightly or weekly basis. Also, remember you’ll need to set up a PayPal account or figure out another way for your clients to pay for their stay.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Have You Had Trouble Getting a Mortgage? Three Tips for Sprucing Up Your Credit Before Reapplying

If you’ve had some trouble getting approved for a mortgage recently, you’re not alone. Many individuals face mortgage challenges due to past blemishes on their credit reports or a personal financial crisis that resulted in bills not being paid on time.
In this post we’ll share three quick tips for sprucing up your personal credit before reapplying for a mortgage. With a bit of luck and hard work you can be on your way to purchasing that new dream home.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards And Lines Of Credit
The easiest way to improve your credit score and prove that you can afford your mortgage payments is to eliminate other forms of debt from your monthly budget. If you have outstanding credit card, student loan or other debts, get them paid off as quickly as possible.
You’ll also want to avoid taking on any new loans while you’re trying to get your mortgage approved as these are likely to show up on your credit report and can hurt your chances at approval.

Pull Your Credit Report And Look For Errors
If you haven’t seen your credit report recently, it might be worth investing in a copy so you can see exactly what your lender sees when they are evaluating you for a mortgage. You may discover that there are errors or inaccuracies that can be cleared off with a quick phone call, such as a past loan that was fully paid or a missed car payment that was reported in error. Every credit report error that you can fix will bring you one step closer to your mortgage approval, so spend a few minutes combing through your report.

Pay All Of Your Bills On Time
Did you know that every overdue bill can leave a negative mark on your credit report? With so many bills to juggle – credit cards, cell phones, utilities and more – it can be tough to keep them all organized and paid before the due date. However, if you’re working to secure a mortgage you must keep your bills paid to avoid being reported as a late or overdue payment.
If you’ve had some trouble getting approved for a mortgage in the past, take a few minutes to contact your local mortgage professional today to ask for their advice. You may find that they have additional tips and strategies that you can leverage to better your chances of being approved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First-time Home Buyer? Don’t Miss These Tips to Ensure You Cross the Approved Line

Are you buying a home for the first time? Congratulations! Buying your own home is an excellent way to build your net worth while living in a space that you can renovate and truly make your own.

If you’re going to be taking out a mortgage to help pay for the up-front costs of your home, you’ll want to get a head start on the approval process.
With that in mind, below are four handy tips to ensure that your mortgage application is approved on your first try.

Gather All Of The Necessary Information And Paperwork
You’re going to need as much financial data as possible so try to prepare your past two income tax returns, pay stubs and other details ahead of time. It may also be helpful to create a quick budget to show your lender how your income stacks up against your monthly bills.

Maintain A Clean Credit History
It likely goes without saying that you’ll need as clean a credit history as possible in order to ensure a quick mortgage approval. If you think that there may be some negative items on your report, try to have a copy pulled before you see your mortgage lender as they’ll be asking you about them.

Don’t Try To Fudge Any Facts On Your Application
Your mortgage lender is legally and professionally obligated to perform a significant amount of due diligence on you before they are able to process your approval. If you’ve lied on your application it is likely to be discovered and will be seen as a serious breach of trust on your part.
Even if your financial picture isn’t all that strong it’s far better to be honest than to try to hide or falsify your data.

Make A Down Payment Higher Than 20 Percent
Finally, if you can make a down payment on your home that is higher than 20 percent of the purchase cost you may find it easier to get approved. Placing more than 20 percent down typically eliminates you from various mortgage insurance requirements and can show the lender that you’re capable of paying the mortgage back in full.

The above tips are just a few ways that you can work to ensure that you have a better chance at being approved for your mortgage. If you have other questions or for more information, contact your local mortgage professional and they’ll be happy to share their expertise.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Buying a New Home Versus Buying Pre-owned

Are you thinking about buying a new home? Congratulations!

Buying a house, condo or townhouse is an exciting and rewarding time which tends to be a lot of fun. However, along the way you’ll need to make a number of decisions – including whether you want to buy a pre-owned home or one that has been built recently and is brand new.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of buying a new home versus buying pre-owned.

New Homes Tend To Have Fewer Problems

One of the major upsides of buying new is that newly-built homes tend to have very few problems within the first few years of ownership.
While you’ll still be required to make regular maintenance on a new home, when you buy pre-owned you’re buying a house that has seen years or decades of weather and regular wear-and-tear.

New Construction Allows For Customization 

If you want to be able to customize certain aspects of your home, it might be better to buy brand new as the builder will be able to incorporate your requests as they’re building the home. Of course, you can always renovate and upgrade a pre-owned home but if you have significant needs you may find it easier to get them built into the home as it’s being developed.

The Major Downsides To Buying New: Cost And Location

While there are a number of upsides to buying new, there are some downsides that you’ll need to know.
First, new homes almost always cost more than an equivalent pre-owned home. Brand new homes are filled with new appliances, fixtures and modern building materials which add to the overall cost of the home. Unless the pre-owned home is on a larger lot or property, you’ll generally be able to save a bit when you buy pre-owned.

Depending on where you’re buying, you may also find that the location where brand new homes are being constructed is much further from the downtown or urban area. In many cities, the only available space for new construction is in suburban areas, which means that you may be in for a lengthy commute to and from work each day if you choose to buy new.
These are just a few of the factors that you’ll need to consider when buying your next dream home.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Self Employed and Seeking a Mortgage? How to Ensure That Your Lender Knows You’re Able to Pay

Whether you’re a freelance web designer who spends their days working from a coffee shop or a small-business entrepreneur with a team of staff, if you’re a self-employed individual and you’re thinking about buying a new house you may face some difficulty getting approved for a mortgage.
In today’s blog post we’ll share how you can provide paperwork and other evidence to show your mortgage lender that you’re a quality applicant who has the ability to make their payments.

Have Your Accountant Prep Your Paperwork
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re in business you should invest in the services of an accountant to handle your tax preparation and other financial matters so that you don’t miss anything important.
If you have an accountant, let them know that you’re applying for a mortgage and ask them to create a package that includes your business financials as well as your past two or three years of income tax documents.

Watch Your Debt-to-income Ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio is one of the primary factors calculated during the mortgage application process and if you don’t have a regular paycheck or salary this is how your lender will assess your ability to pay.

In short, this number is the percentage of your monthly gross income that is used to pay debts, taxes, insurance, and other items. Add up your car payment, loan payments, credit card payments, child support and any other regular debts and divide this number from your monthly income. If this number is too high, your application may be declined.

Ensure You Have A Clean, Stable History
Your credit rating – and that of your business – will be intensely scrutinized by any potential lender in order to determine whether or not you present a significant risk of missing a payment or defaulting entirely.

Maintaining a positive credit history can be challenging as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re in the early stages of your business and you’re relying on loans or other financing to help fund your operations. Try to make sure that every bill is paid and avoid situations that can leave a blemish on your credit report.

Seek The Advice Of A Mortgage Professional
Even if you have your past taxes and a clean credit history you may still face a bit of an uphill battle in getting that mortgage approved. It’s best to seek a mortgage professional’s advice as early on in the process as you can, as they work with self-employed individuals regularly and will be able to help you craft your application. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Understanding What It Costs to Close on a Home and What You Can Expect to Pay

If you’re in the process of buying a new home, you’ve likely heard the term “closing costs” in regards to the many different fees and taxes that you’ll be required to pay during the purchase process.
In this post we’ll look at a number of these closing costs and what you will be expected to pay when you buy that next dream home.

Taking out a Mortgage? There Will Be Fees Attached
If you’re taking out a mortgage to finance the cost of buying your home you’ll end up incurring a variety of fees. Nearly all lenders will charge a mortgage application fee, which covers the cost of processing your application and all of the necessary paperwork.
You’ll likely have to pay for a professional appraisal of the home as well, as the lender will want to ensure that they aren’t lending you more than the house and property are actually worth.

Inspection And Insurance Costs Will Add Up
If you’re buying a pre-owned home you’ll need to pay for a home inspection to gain an understanding of the home’s condition and if you’ll need to make any repairs in the near future. You’ll also need to purchase homeowner’s insurance on the property to protect yourself in the event that something does go wrong with the home.

If you put less than 20 percent down on the cost of the home, your mortgage lender may also require that you purchase private mortgage insurance; this will vary depending on which state or province you are buying in.

Don’t Forget About Escrow Fees and Taxes
As with any major financial transaction you’ll need to satisfy the tax man by paying various taxes on your purchase. These will vary depending on where you are buying your home, but might include sales taxes, property taxes, transfer taxes, recording fees, title transfer fees and more.
If you used a third-party escrow service to manage these fees or to hold your deposit during the closing process you’ll also need to pay escrow fees prior to signing the final paperwork.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shopping Around: How to Compare Mortgages from Different Lenders or Underwriters

Buying a home is a major financial transaction, especially if you’re going to need mortgage financing to help cover the purchase cost.

The only way to know if you’re getting the best deal on a mortgage is to shop around, but with so many different lenders vying for your business it can be very tough to choose which mortgage is the best fit for your own situation.
In this post we’ll share how you can compare mortgages from different lenders or underwriters so that you can get the best possible deal on your mortgage loan.

Start By Comparing Interest Rates
The most important factor in your mortgage is the interest rate that you’ll be required to pay so this should be your starting point.
While most lenders will keep their rates competitive with one another, you may find that there are discounts available based on your credit or financial history. You might also find that some lenders are willing to adjust the rate based on how long of a mortgage term you’ll need, and how much you’re investing in your down payment.

Get An Estimate Of Your Total Closing Costs
While the number that you’re likely focused on is the total monthly payment that you’ll be making for the next few years, you’ll also want to find out how much in fees and closing costs you will have to pay in order to take out the mortgage.
Every lender charges different fees and the amounts can vary wildly, so be sure to get an estimate on these costs to find out how they’ll affect your home purchase.

Watch Out For Early Payment Penalties
Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye out for early repayment penalties as these can cause you a headache later on if you decide you want to pay your mortgage off a bit faster. The ideal mortgage is one that allows you to repay the principal amount at any time without facing a penalty, but depending on the other terms that you require you might need to shop around a bit before you find a mortgage like this.
 
You may find that comparison shopping can be a bit overwhelming with so many different mortgage options, terms and interest rates to choose from. If you have questions or you need help sorting through it all to determine which mortgage suits you best, contact your local mortgage professional today to book a quick consultation.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular Renovation

If you’re looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make – provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.

Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home
While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.

A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time
As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.

Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost
Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they’ll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overpay On Your Mortgage Or Add To Your Savings, This Is The Question

So you find yourself with a little bit of extra money – perhaps due to a raise, an inheritance or an unexpected windfall?
Should you put all of your money toward paying down the mortgage on your home? Or would you be better off placing your extra cash into a savings account?

Deciding whether to pay down your mortgage or add to your savings is a complex choice and it depends on a number of factors in your personal financial situation.

Here are some of the things that you will need to consider when making the decision:

How Much Are Your Savings Earning?
Take a look at the savings accounts where you are keeping your money and assess the interest that your savings are earning. Is your money earning more in savings than you would save by paying down your mortgage earlier?

Does Your Mortgage Have Overpayment Penalties?
Some mortgage lenders will charge you a fee if you try to repay your mortgage earlier than the agreed upon term. Check with your lender to find out and calculate whether the extra costs will outweigh the benefits you get from overpaying your mortgage. If they do, put your windfall in savings instead.

What are Your Other Debts?
It doesn’t make sense to be overpaying on your mortgage if you have a lot of credit card debt that is charging you an enormous amount in interest. Prioritize your high-interest debt first before you think about overpaying on your mortgage.

Do You Have An Emergency Fund?
You should always have an emergency fund in cash that will protect you from having to use expensive credit card debt if an unexpected payment comes up such as a burst pipe or a flat tire on your car or if you lose your job.

A good rule is to have the equivalent of three to six months of savings in a bank account just in case you need it. This is a first priority and only when you have this emergency fund established should you consider overpaying on your mortgage.

These are just a few of the important factors that you should consider when deciding whether to overpay the mortgage on your home or place the money in savings. For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Understanding Title Insurance and How It Impacts Your Mortgage Loan

When you buy a home, you will be given a title to your new property. A title is a legal document that proves you own the property, and in most cases the title excludes other parties from making an ownership claim.
However, not all titles give you free and clear ownership of the property. Title insurance protects you and your lender from title disputes and other ownership issues that may arise. Here are just a few ways that title insurance can impact your mortgage.

How Title Insurance Protects A Lender
There are certain situations in which someone might put a lien on your property. New owners might see liens if the previous owner failed to pay the mortgage, if a contractor did work without the new owner’s consent or if the previous owner owes unpaid property taxes.
If these liens were not disclosed prior to the sale, a buyer could face a situation where a third party is making a claim to the property. Should the title by voided in court, the insurance policy would repay the lender the outstanding balance on the mortgage. The policy is valid until the mortgage loan is paid off.
When a homeowner refinances, it may be necessary to purchase a new title loan policy, as the new loan will technically pay off the old loan.

How Title Insurance Protects A Buyer
Title loan policies do not just protect the lender. In many cases, the lender will require the buyer’s title insurance to include an owner policy. This policy confirms that the buyer owns the title and that the title is free from defects.
The policy is in effect for as long as the buyer or his or her descendants own the house. Should a homeowner have his or her title challenged, the policy will cover all losses up to the amount of the original purchase price of the home.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?
The cost of title insurance can vary between locations. Sometimes, the purchase contract will stipulate that the seller is responsible for buying title insurance.
If this is the case, the buyer may pay nothing. However, it is common to pay on a sliding scale. Title insurance is usually a few hundred dollars for houses selling for under $500,000.

Title insurance is a great way to protect your investment in your home. It insures you against ownership disputes and liens, which means your house is truly yours. For more information about title insurance, contact a qualified mortgage professional in your area.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Three Questions Your Lender Will Ask You – and How to Prepare Your Answers

Before approving a mortgage, your lender is going to have to do his due diligence to ensure that you can afford a loan large enough to pay for a house. That means your lender will be asking you several questions about whether or not you can afford a mortgage.

Here’s how you can prepare to answer these questions in a way that will increase your likelihood of approval.

How Stable Is Your Income?
Your lender is going to want to know that your income is going to be stable over the life of the loan. This means that you should be able to document steady employment, that investment income is going to be stable or that the alimony that you receive from your former spouse will continue to come in for the foreseeable future. To document your income, you can provide bank statements, pay stubs or tax returns from the previous three years.

How Much Do You Have In The Bank?
A lender is going to be interested in how much you have in reserve in case you lost your job or suffer an unexpected medical expense that could make it harder to pay your mortgage. For a conventional mortgage, you may be required to have three to six months’ worth of expenses in the bank or in other assets that you could liquidate. To show how much you have in the bank, you can provide bank statements or balance statements from any other account where you may get money from if need be.

Where Is The Money For The Down Payment And Closing Costs Coming From?
While some lenders don’t mind if the money is gifted from a qualified source such as a family member, friend or employer, other lenders will require that the money for a down payment or other costs comes straight from your own bank account. To prove where the funds are coming from, you will need to show when the money was deposited into your bank account if using your own funds (or a gift letter if the funds are being gifted).

A mortgage lender needs to be sure that you are able to repay any loan that you are approved for. That means you’ll want to present your lender with solid, documented proof that you have a steady income and ample cash reserves to pay the mortgage and associated fees. For more information about what lenders look for in mortgage applicants, contact a qualified mortgage professional today.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation Use

If you’ve just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, you probably wish that wonderful time never had to end. When you buy a vacation home or condo, you can guarantee that you have an escape that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Before you take the plunge, though, take advantage of these six helpful tips about buying a vacation home.

Choose Someplace Versatile
When buying a vacation home, it’s all about getting the most out of your investment. Consider choosing a place that you can enjoy throughout the year. Your ideal vacation home will be a haven in the summer, a beauty in the fall, a refresher during the spring, and the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays.

Think About Convenience
When you choose your vacation home, you will want to find a relaxing getaway that fits your lifestyle. If you love to have easy access to the grocery store and other amenities, don’t buy in a remote location. If instead you’d prefer something secluded, opt for a home that is hidden far from civilization.

Consider Your Neighbors
Depending on where you choose to buy a vacation home, you’re likely to be surrounded by others who love the area as much as you do. You need to decide if you want to have many others who are in close proximity or if you prefer having your space to yourself.

Find Out About Taxes
If you are opting for an extremely popular location, beware of high taxes. You want to go into your purchase with your eyes wide open. If you choose a home that is off the beaten path, you could have a more favorable tax rate.

Learn About Restrictions
You may have restrictions to deal with when you buy a vacation home. From a Home Owner’s Association that stipulates regulations about the care of property to restrictions in paint schemes, you may not have complete freedom with your property.

Look For Excellent Deals
Whether it is due to the strained economy or someone who has to make a property move quickly, you could find a phenomenal deal. Don’t rush into any sale until you’ve reviewed all of your options. Buying a home that is in a community neighboring a hot spot (instead of in the hot spot itself) could make for better prices as well.

A vacation home is a great real estate investment that can make vacation planning much easier. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well equipped to find the perfect vacation home for your budget.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Speeding Up the Close: Five Tips on How to Close Your Mortgage Loan Faster So You Can Start Moving In

When a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, the process of obtaining the property has just begun. The buyer now has to conduct an inspection, get approval from an attorney and obtain a mortgage – all of which can be time consuming. Here are a few ways that you can speed up the mortgage process and close the deal sooner.

Make Sure That You Have Money For Closing Costs
Do you have the money needed for a down payment and to pay other closing and prepaid costs? If not, you won’t be able to close until you find the funds to pay those costs – and this could delay the closing on your home indefinitely. Before you arrange the mortgage, make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay closing costs.

Get Conditional Approval Before Making The Offer
If you have not been conditionally approved for a loan before making an offer, you can’t be sure that a lender will give you a loan for the amount of the purchase price. In addition, starting the process from scratch could push back the closing timeline. Having your mortgage conditionally approved means the mortgage process is already underway when you make your offer, which saves you time.

Have Your Documents Together
Get your bank statements, pay stubs and other documents together before the seller accepts your offer. Having everything that the lender needs right away decreases the time needed for a lender to assess your application before extending the loan.

Work With An Experienced Mortgage Lender
Your mortgage lender may be able to move everything along by staying on top of the loan approval process. By ensuring that documents are being processed in a timely manner, an experienced lender can reduce the closing time from months to weeks.

Create A Timeline For Repairs The Seller Is Obligated To Make
It is not uncommon for a seller to be obligated to fix certain issues with the house before the new owner takes possession. However, it is important to put these repairs the contract along with a mandatory completion date. Otherwise, the seller could drag his feet with no contractual obligation to finish any repairs before he sees fit to do so.

Closing on a home loan can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days depending on work that needs to be done on the home and how well prepared a buyer is. Contacting and working closely with your mortgage lender or broker can result in a speedy and painless close. Contact an experienced mortgage professional today for more information about closing a mortgage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

FICO Scores and Your Mortgage: How to Bump Your FICO Score to Secure a Better Mortgage Rate

Is your credit score holding you back from getting the best rate on your next mortgage? The good news is that there are actions that you can take to increase your credit score and improve the interest rate offered on your next home loan.

Here are a few easy and effective tips to help you get your credit score to where you want it to be.
Increase The Amount Of Credit Available To You
The easiest way to increase your credit score is to increase your credit limit, as this reduces your utilization ratio. To do this, you can either apply for another credit card or ask a current credit card provider to increase your credit limit. Those who have a stable income and have made their monthly payments on time should have no problem getting an increase of their credit limit.

Pay Down The Balances On Your Credit Card
Paying down your credit card balances can help you increase your credit score, as a large portion of your score is determined by the percent of available credit that you are using. Ideally, you want each card balance to be under 30 percent of the total limit while also keeping your total credit usage to less than 30 percent of available credit. A utilization ratio under 30 percent tells lenders that you can manage credit responsibly.

Settle Past Due Debts
Roughly one-third of your credit score is determined by your ability to make payments in a timely manner. If you have any payments that are 30 or more days past due, you may wish to settle those debts or make arrangements to pay them.

Creditors who allow you to roll past due payments back into your loan may update your credit report to say that you are current on your payments. This could have a huge impact on your credit score and help you qualify for a better rate on a home loan.

Increasing your credit score is one of the best ways to get the best rate on a mortgage. This may enable you to gain additional leverage when negotiating for a better rate that may lower your monthly payment to a more affordable level.

For more information about how to get a great mortgage rate for your next home purchase, or for advice on how to improve your credit score, contact your local mortgage professional today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate ‘Short Sale’ and How This Process Works

A short sale is something that occurs when a homeowner is not able to make the mortgage payments on time due to a financial hardship. Instead of foreclosing on the property after one or more missed payments, the bank may agree to allow the homeowner to turn the home over to the bank, which will sell it to as close to market value as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about how short sales work and what circumstances might call for one.
Step 1: The Homeowner Provides Information To The Bank
The first step in the short sale process is for the homeowner to submit an information package to the bank. The homeowner will provide information such as the reason for the short sale, an authorization letter allowing the real estate agent to talk to the bank, and a financial statement. In addition, the seller may need to provide an HUD-1 statement as well as a list of comparable homes in the area.
Step 2: The Buyer Makes An Offer
Once the house is put on the market, a buyer can make an offer just as he or she would on any other home. The seller will then have the opportunity to accept any offer that he or she receives from a prospective buyer.
Step 3: The Bank Makes A Decision About The Offer
Once the seller accepts an offer to buy the home on short sale, the seller is responsible for sending information about the sale to the bank. Before the sale is finalized, the bank must approve the buyer’s offer. It could take as little as two weeks or as long as 120 days for the bank to approve the offer.
However, not all short sales are immediately approved. The seller’s bank bank might decline the buyer’s offer for one reason or another. A bank may decline a short sale offer if the bank negotiator thinks the house is worth more than the buyer’s offer or if the seller violates a clause in the short sale agreement – such as moving out of the property and violating a clause that states only owner-occupied properties are eligible for short sale.
Buying a home that is being sold as a short sale requires patience and an ability to move at the bank’s pace. Working closely with an experienced lender or mortgage broker may make it easier to get through the process without a lot of hassle or drama.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Refi or Wait? How to Choose Between Refinancing Your Mortgage Now or Waiting Until You Need the Money

Refinancing your existing mortgage may provide you with the opportunity to lower your interest rate, reduce your mortgage payment and adjust your loan term. For those homeowners who have lived in their home for more than a few years, pulling equity out of the property for everything from a luxurious vacation to making home improvements is a tempting potential benefit.
However, with property values and interest rates adjusting frequently, you may wonder if now is the best time to refinance your mortgage.

Using Equity From Your Refinance
One factor to consider when debating between refinancing now and waiting relates to pulling equity out of your home. If you need access to the cash now for home improvements or other purposes, refinancing now may be ideal. Even if you do not need access to your equity for several months or longer, you can lock in today’s rates and invest the money in other vehicles, such as CDs or bonds, until you need the cash.

Anticipating Market Changes
You may have heard that the interest rates for home mortgages have been slowly rising, and while they remain close to historic lows, they are projected to continue to rise. Nobody can predict with certainty how interest rates will adjust in the next few months and years, and locking in today’s rates may be beneficial. Keep in mind that if rates decline significantly in the near future, you can always look into refinancing again.

Reducing Your Principal
If you have a higher interest rate on your existing mortgage, your principal balance may be reduced at a slower rate than if you refinance to a lower interest rate. In addition, if you refinance from a 30-year term to a shorter term length, your principal balance will also be reduced more quickly in most cases. In many situations, refinancing your home mortgage today may establish a more efficient repayment schedule that allows you to accrue equity at a faster rate.


Each homeowner has unique factors to consider when refinancing based on property value, credit rating, existing loan terms and other factors. While many will benefit by refinancing an existing mortgage today, you can speak with a mortgage professional for specific advice and recommendations regarding your situation. Call your trusted mortgage representative today to inquire about the options and to begin working on your refinance loan application.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)

As if homeowners who are facing foreclosure don’t have enough to worry about, a multitude of loan modification scam artists have invaded the internet, public files and even foreclosure notices in newspapers in hopes of targeting their next victim. By identifying the top three modification scams and learning how to avoid them, at-risk homeowners can protect themselves (and their homes).
 
Never Pay For Mortgage Modification Assistance
Many desperate homeowners fall victim to scam artists who offer to provide them with assistance in the loan modification process for an exorbitant fee. Many times the scam artist who promises to provide assistance will require that the homeowner pay the fee upfront, after which they will provide very little assistance or simply take the money and run. Consumers should be aware that assistance and counseling services are offered for free through a number of reputable HUD approved counseling agencies.

Avoid Transferring The Deed
One popular scam that at-risk homeowners often face is the property deed scam in which scam artists promise to purchase the home in question, agreeing to let the desperate homeowner rent it out. They suggest that turning over the deed to a borrower with a better credit rating will offer additional financing opportunities, thus preventing the loss of the home. The scammer often promises to sell the home back to the homeowner, but in reality has no intention of doing so.
Many times the scam artist will sell the home to another buyer. In some instances, the crook will collect any processing fees, take the title to the home and any equity, and then leave the home to default. It is a good idea for consumers who are approached with a property deed scam to report it to the FTC.

Ignore Unrealistic Promises
Mortgage modification scammers often make promises to do such things as negotiate a solution to the foreclosure more quickly, process mortgage payments for the consumer while the negotiation is being worked out, or even guarantee a loan modification. Since the actual lender is the only one who can agree to a loan modification, and this solution requires additional processing time, overnight fixes are almost always scams. Additionally, consumers should never make mortgage payments to anyone other than their lender.

For additional information about mortgage modification scams and how to avoid them, or to receive assistance with working out a solution to avoid foreclosure, at-risk homeowners should contact their mortgage professional.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

‘Cash-Out Refinancing’ and How to Determine if It’s Worth It

With interest rates remaining near historic lows for the past several years, many of your friends and neighbors may have already told you that they have refinanced their home mortgages once or even a couple of times. A cash-out refinance can provide you with several important benefits, but it is not the best option for all homeowners. By learning more about what a cash-out refinance is and what the pros and cons of this type of refinance loan are, you can make a decision that is best for your current and future plans.
What Is a Cash-Out Refinance?
When you refinance your home mortgage, you can select a rate and term refinance which does not pull equity out of your home, or you can select a cash-out refinance to access some of the equity in your property. You can research your property value and your outstanding principal balance to determine how much equity you have available. Keep in mind that most lenders will not allow you to access all of the equity, and you can obtain more information about the loan amount you may qualify for by speaking with a mortgage professional.
The Benefits of a Cash-Out Refinance
If you decide to apply for a cash-out refinance loan, you may be able to walk away from the closing table with tens of thousands of dollars or more. This is money that you may use for any purpose, including home improvements, paying off high interest rate credit cards, sending the kids to college and more. In addition, you may enjoy other benefits from refinancing, such as lowering your interest rate and mortgage payment and adjusting your loan term to meet long-term goals.
When a Cash-Out Refinance May Not Be Advisable
A cash-out refinance loan can be beneficial, but there are instances when it is not the best solution. The loan will adjust principal reduction, the loan payoff date, the interest charges and other factors. The adjustment of these factors may make your new loan less advantageous for you in some cases, so you should carefully consider the full impact of refinancing before you decide to move forward.
From learning more about the benefits of refinancing to finding a competitive rate for your new mortgage, there are many factors to consider. You can speak with a mortgage professional today to inquire about the cash-out refinance loan terms that you may qualify for and to explore the options in greater detail. If you are thinking about applying for a cash-out home loan, contact a lending representative today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every Time

Homeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments can make it easier on themselves by cutting costs in other areas. Learning how to budget effectively will likely enable homeowners to pay their mortgage payments on-time, every time. Here are five of the best budget tips:
Conserve Energy
It is advisable to be mindful of energy use in order to keep utility bills down to a minimum. Lights, televisions and other devices requiring electrical power are best to leave off in unoccupied rooms. It is also a good idea to make sure that windows and doors are properly sealed so that energy is not wasted.
Stay Committed to Couponing
All too often, coupons that arrive in newspapers or through emails are quickly discarded. Collecting coupons from various sources can give homeowners the chance to save big on groceries, entertainment and other everyday purchases. Some of the savviest consumers have been known to spend practically nothing on their purchases by simply staying committed to the art of couponing.
Watch Credit Card Usage
Having a credit card often creates a false sense of financial security. Many card holders are tempted to charge their credit cards up to their limits only to be burdened with high interest rates and inflated minimum payments. Credit cards are best to use only in times of emergencies.
Consider Alternative Transportation Methods
Fuel costs, auto repairs and other expenses associated with driving a vehicle on a frequent basis can make it much harder for homeowners to stay on top of their mortgage payments. People who have access to adequate public transportation may be able to significantly reduce their commute costs. Car sharing services give people the opportunity to use a car on an as-needed basis and often prove to be a smarter alternative to owning a vehicle.
Keep Expense Records
It can also be easier to set money aside for mortgage payments if expenses are carefully monitored with a detailed eye. It is best to closely scrutinize receipts, bank statements and other financial documents for any discrepancies. Keeping track of expenses on a spreadsheet so that all financial information is clearly displayed may be another practical idea.
Smart budgeting practices can help homeowners save the extra money they need to pay their monthly mortgage payments before each due date passes. Contact a local mortgage professional to learn more clever ways to manage money while trying to pay on a mortgage.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

Buying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we’ll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner’s Insurance is Necessary
Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you’re sure that this is the home for you, don’t delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What
In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms
When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold ‘as is’.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone
A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers
If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don’t take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there’s likely a good reason for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sellers, Beware: Five Reasons You Might Not Get Top Dollar when You Sell Your Home (And How to Avoid Them)

For most people, their home is their largest asset, so they want to maximize that asset by getting top dollar when they sell. Here are a few reasons you might not get top dollar when you sell – and how to avoid them!
Selling At The Wrong Time
From early spring to late summer is home-buying season for most people, especially those with children. Putting your house on the market during this period is when you are likely to get top dollar for it. Early fall is also a good time to list your home. Winter – especially December – is the worst time to list. If you list your home outside of prime selling season, you are likely to get less for it than you could have otherwise.

Not Staging Your Home Properly
Many people think of staging as simply rearranging the furniture or changing curtains, but there is so much more to it, and not doing it properly can mean less money for your home. To stage your home properly, you must declutter, putting knick-knacks and family pictures away. You also want to make sure your home is as clean as possible and that you correct any defects such as holes in the wall or cracked window panes. Another thing you should do as part of your staging routine is to paint your walls in neutral colors and update cabinet hardware and light fixtures that are out of date. These little changes can make a big difference.

Not Paying Attention To Curb Appeal
You can spend all the time and money necessary to spruce up the inside of your home, but if your lawn is a patch of dirt and your gutters are falling down, all that work and money can go for naught. To get top dollar for your home, you need to improve your curb appeal. This includes seeding or sodding bare spots in your lawn, trimming trees and shrubbery and fixing up home-related items such as broken concrete and sagging gutters.

Not Getting The Price Right
You might think that to get the highest price out of your house, you have to price it high. However, that’s not necessarily always the case. If you price your house too high, it can make other similar houses that are priced lower look like better deals. You should make sure to pay close attention to what comparable homes are selling for in the area and price your home accordingly.

Not Working With A Real Estate Agent
Many people think they can save a bundle selling their home by not working with a real estate agent. While you do save on the real estate commission, you can lose more than that amount by making mistakes in pricing and marketing. A real estate agent will have access to resources you don’t, such as information on buyers looking in your neighborhood. An agent will market your home, make sure it is priced accordingly and set up showings. It is worth your time and money to call an agent experienced in selling homes in your neighborhood who can give you a market evaluation.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Is Now the Time to Consider a 15-Year Mortgage? Five Reasons to Give the 15Y Another Look

A 15-year fixed mortgage is, as its name suggests, a mortgage that’s paid off after 15 years. Since it
amortizes fully, after that amount of time you won’t have to pay anything else. This type of mortgage has a lot of benefits, and below we’ll share just a few of them.
1) No Need For Payments After Retirement
Here it highly depends on when in life you choose to take on the mortgage. However, most people decide to take on a mortgage at around 30 years of age.
If this is the case for you, then it means you’ll be 45 years old when your mortgage will be fully paid. There will be no need to worry about having to use Social Security or pension checks to pay it off.
Another consideration is the fact that the older you are, the more your health costs will go up. Having costs like that pile up while having to make mortgage payments can be a huge problem. For that reason, not having to pay off your mortgage after retirement is a tremendous bonus.

2) Your Home Will Be Yours Sooner
You might think your house is yours the minute you step into it. However, in reality, it’s only yours after you have fully paid your mortgage off. Until then, it can be repossessed if you fail to make payments.

With a 15-year mortgage, your home will become yours in the blink of an eye. Then, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy other things in life, knowing you already own your home.

3) You’ll Pay Less Interest
If you were to pick, say, a 30-year mortgage, there will be twice as many years in which interest will add up. This will more than double the amount you end up having to pay, as mortgage interest compounds over time.

As such, getting a 15-year mortgage will not only reduce the time you’ll pay it off; it will also reduce the amount you pay back. Saving both time and money is an amazing deal.

4) Get Lower Rates
On most 15-year mortgages, the amount you have to pay in terms of rates is usually lower than for 30-year ones. As such, you’ll be saving money in two ways. First, you’ll save by reducing the time, then, by reducing the actual rate.

5) Learn To Push Yourself
Some people fear getting a 15-year mortgage. The reason is that they think the payments will be too expensive. They think that getting a 30-year mortgage is likely a better idea.

If you can’t afford to make the payments of a 15-year mortgage, you might want to reconsider. However, if you can afford it, but you’re afraid, don’t be. Pushing yourself to achieve something you truly want is a good thing. You’ll become a stronger person, and you’ll have more reason to be proud of your achievement.

A 15-year mortgage has many benefits. The main one is simply that you’ll be able to pay it faster, which means that you won’t worry about it for long. This, in addition to the fact that you’ll be paying less are very convincing factors.

If you’d like to learn more about 15-year mortgage plans, contact your mortgage professional for more information.

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Insider’s Guide to Reducing Your Remaining Mortgage Years Through a Smart Refinance

Is it always the best idea to pay off a mortgage over 30 years? While it may help a homeowner lower his or her monthly payment, it can mean paying more in interest and waiting several more years to build sufficient equity in the home.
The question is…how can a homeowner reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off a mortgage by refinancing his or her loan? A few methods for reducing your mortgage term are explained below.

Refinance From A 30-Year Mortgage To A 15-Year Mortgage

For those who don’t want to wait any longer than necessary to pay off their home loan, it may be possible to refinance to a shorter-term mortgage. Instead of taking 30 years to pay off the loan, a homeowner can opt to pay off the loan in 10 years or 15 years. The shorter the term, the less interest will be paid on the loan.

Get A Lower Interest Rate With A Shorter-Term Mortgage

Another good reason to shorten a mortgage term is because it could lower the loan’s interest rate. Instead of paying 4.5 percent over 30 years, it may be possible to pay 4 percent over 15 years. This gives the mortgage holder the chance to build equity in the home faster as they are paying more of the principal balance with each payment. While a mortgage holder can pay more than the minimum amount on a longer-term mortgage each month, it could still end up costing more overall due to the terms of the loan. Be sure to ask your mortgage professional about your options here.

Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance

Those who are paying mortgage insurance could be paying $200 or more per month for nothing more than the right to protect the lender against default. Homeowners who could qualify for a conventional loan should attempt to refinance to a conventional loan if possible to avoid making this payment. Instead of going toward mortgage insurance, put that money toward the principal balance on the loan. There are, of course, risks involved with this approach so be sure to fully discuss them with a professional.

How Can Someone Refinance A Loan?

Now that you know how to pay off your mortgage faster through a refinance, how can someone go about refinancing a home loan? Fortunately, refinancing is similar to the process of securing the home’s first loan. All a borrower will need to do is find a lender that he or she wants to work with, find an offer that works for that borrower and then close on the deal. Although there may be closing costs associated with the new loan, some lenders may be willing to waive some or all of them on a refinance.

Paying off a mortgage as soon as possible can help a borrower save money while building equity in the home at a faster pace. This gives a homeowner financial strength as well as the flexibility to sell the house in the future without worrying about losing money in the deal. To find out more about refinancing options, talk to a mortgage lender.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Buying a House or Condo? Why the Home Inspection Process is One You Won’t Want to Skimp On

Once you have found that perfect home with the right price and every little feature you were hoping for, it’s important to keep in mind that the home has been presented in a way that accentuates its highlights and shadows any flaws. For this reason, it is crucial that you get a home inspection before completing a purchase.

Many sellers also have inspectors investigate the home in order to determine its sale value. As such, they should be aware that a prospective buyer will want to request an independent inspection to verify the findings.

Reasons For Home Inspections

If you are the one purchasing the home, getting an inspection is likely to be the most important investigation you need to perform to ensure you are getting the best value. It can also help to know what reasons each party has for requiring a home inspection.

Buyers, for example, feel peace of mind knowing the home in question is safe. They also gain the ability to negotiate in the event a problem arises from inspection, or they can request repairs first. They can also opt out if the problems that arise are too overwhelming to deal with prior to or after the purchase. Finally, buyers can learn about the kind of maintenance and upkeep be required for the home in the long run.

Sellers, on the other hand, want to make the transaction as smooth of a process as possible to prevent issues that could slow down the sale. They can also learn about any problems they need to repair before putting the house on the market, and they can determine the sale price for the transaction. Lastly, this allows the seller to prove their transparency by having an inspection report available, even though he or she should expect that the buyer should be requesting an independent home inspection regardless.

It should be evident, having an inspection conducted is vital for buyers and sellers alike; though the price might seem costly at first, it is merely a small fee that is well worth the effort to solidify a home purchase.

Finding A Home Inspector

The first thing to keep in mind is that most states lack a licensing process for those who inspect homes. If your state does not have such criteria, finding an inspector in good standing with a nationally recognized organization can help as well.
It is very important not to take a seller’s inspection report at face value, no matter what kind of reputation they may have as a person. You might not even want to accept an inspector that someone else hires since they may have a vested interest that can influence the report.
Keep in mind that a general inspector is not typically licensed to check for specific issues like gas or pests. As such, you will need to either seek someone who is licensed for a full inspection or specifically request inspection for pests, especially for those in high risk areas.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three Ways That Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage (and Your Chance of Obtaining One!)

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ve probably been thinking a lot about your credit score as well. Credit scores control so much of what we do in the world of finances, but what does your credit score really have to do with your mortgage? Here are three ways that your credit score could impact your mortgage application.

Your Credit Score Affects Your Ability To Get A Mortgage

The first thing your credit score tells a lender is whether they should lend to you at all. In some cases, if you have a very low credit score, you may not be able to obtain a mortgage at all.
Different lenders will have different criteria for determining safe and unsafe lending situations. Typically, if you have a score below the 600 mark, you’ll have trouble obtaining a mortgage.
If you’re worried about a low credit score, don’t despair – you can still get a mortgage, you just might have to work a little harder to get one. Some lenders will still lend to people with lower credit scores (just make sure you’re approaching legitimate lenders and not mortgage scam artists). Or, if time is on your side, you can work toward building up your credit score so that when it comes time to take out a mortgage, your score will be more appealing to lenders.

Your Credit Score Affects What Types Of Mortgages You Can Obtain

The second thing a lender learns from your credit score is which types of mortgages you qualify for. If a lender sees you as a higher risk, they won’t necessarily be willing to offer you just any old mortgage.
In most cases, if you have a credit score of less than 620, you won’t qualify for a conventional mortgage. In addition, if you have a lower credit score, you may have to make a larger down payment in order to qualify for the type of mortgage you want.

Your Credit Score Affects Your Interest Rate

The final thing that a lender learns from your credit score is what type of interest rate they’re willing to offer you. As a general rule, the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate.
However, just because you have a high credit score, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get a great mortgage rate. There’s more that goes into the price of a mortgage than just the interest rate, so watch out for additional factors like extra fees, mortgage insurance, lock-in periods, and so on.
Your credit score tells a lender a lot about what type of borrower you are. Ultimately, a higher credit score means that you’ll be able to borrow money at a lower interest rate. But if your score is low, don’t worry – there’s a lot you can do to bring up that score before you apply for a mortgage, so don’t throw in the towel just yet!
Every financial situation is different, so if you want to find out more about how your credit score will affect your mortgage in your specific circumstance, talk to your mortgage professional.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mortgage Budgeting 101: How to Determine What You Can and Can’t Afford

When taking on a new mortgage, it is important to know that you can afford to carry the debt load Mortgage Budgeting 101: How to Determine What You Can and Can't Affordinvolved, as many people find themselves in financial trouble by spending more on real estate than they can comfortably maintain. Your mortgage budget can be calculated to determine just how much you should spend on your next mortgage.

Mortgage Rates And Today’s Market Conditions

Mortgage rates change every day, and in times of high volatility can even fluctuate more than once in a twenty-four hour period. The market reflects a number of economic variables, including relevant world news and events. Wall Street also directly affects the real estate market. By researching and watching mortgage rates closely you will be able to secure your mortgage at the best rate possible.
With so many different loan types, terms and interest can affect your monthly mortgage payment significantly. Shop around, and see which loan types will work for you. The rates available will be effected by the type of real estate you are purchasing, and your credit score.

Your Total Income

Your income helps give lenders an indicator of your ability to pay a mortgage. Your total income may include alimony, investment revenue, or other sources in addition to regular wages. Knowing this total and how it might change in the near future can help one get a sense of what is manageable.

Mortgage Expectations And Monthly Expense

Monthly expenses play a big role in your mortgage budget. Credit card debt, vehicles and other monthly commitments need to be factored in full to clearly understand your financial situation.
If you are carrying a large debt load, you may want to pay your debts down before adding more debt via a mortgage. Clearing up outstanding debts will help boost your credit score and in turn your appeal to lenders.

Expenditures that may be considered frivolous or redundant could be eating away at your mortgage budget. Try to cut out unnecessary spending to create some breathing room in your monthly budget. It is important to be more realistic when budgeting than one would be when goal setting, but it is always a good idea to ‘trim away the fat’.

The Amount You Put Down On The Debt

Another factor of affordability and eligibility will be your down payment. How much money you put as a down payment can and will affect the types of mortgage loans and interest rates accessible to you. The value of the down payment will vary depending on the type of property or investment that is being secured; higher value properties will require a larger down payment.
Real estate is a great way to invest in your future. Although some can turn a profit ‘flipping’ houses, most mortgages are long-term investments. The investment grows more beneficial over time as the principal is paid down.

By carefully considering your personal finances, you will be able to determine what you can and cannot afford. Researching the options available will build your confidence when choosing a loan. Contact your trusted mortgage professional for answers to any additional affordability questions.