Getting a Mortgage in 2017? 4 Reasons Why It’s Time to Start Paying Down Other Debts Now

Buying a home is afamily-castlen ideal investment for many people because not only is it a place that belongs to them, it can also be a very beneficial investment. While you may be strongly considering buying a home for these reasons, it’s also important to be in good financial health so that your ideal home purchase is within reach. If you’re currently perusing the market for prospects, here are some reasons you should pay down debt before taking the leap into home ownership.

Good Credit History

The amount of your debt load and whether or not you’re paying off your minimum monthly payments has a considerable impact on your mortgage approval, so ensuring that you have good credit history going into the process is important. If you’ve had hiccups with your credit, make sure you go through your credit report prior to submitting your application to determine where you’re at.

Lowering Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Whether or not you’ve heard the term, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) has a significant impact on how much house you can afford. Made up of the amount of your monthly debt payment and current house payment, your DTI should be below a certain percentage as this will enable you to afford a higher home payment each month.

Shifting Interest Rates

Getting a mortgage is one thing, but interest rates add more to the monthly amount you’ll owe. A fixed-rate mortgage can seem like a good idea, but if interest rates are low you may end up paying more than you would on a variable rate, which can be hard to predict. As interest rates are a part of home ownership, having lower debt will enable you to deal with these additional costs.

Finding The Right Home

Putting your money into a home can be one of the best purchases you’ll make, but if you’re unable to afford the home you love, it can be a disappointing fact to face. While there are no assurances that paying down debt will enable you to afford your dream home, it can go a long way towards giving you more options that will fit your budget.

Buying a home can be a money saver in the long run, but if you’re struggling to keep up with your debt payments buying into the market can be more of a burden than anything else. If you’re currently paying down debt and considering a home purchase, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Forget Mortgage Apps: 5 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Use a Human Mortgage Broker

lady-at-computerA mortgage broker can be a helpful tool in finding the right opportunity for you, but it can be tempting to deal with mortgage apps that may be able to consolidate all the information you need in one place. While many modern apps can be quite convenient, there are a few reasons you may want to use a knowledgeable mortgage professional to ensure the credibility of your most important purchase.

Up-To-Date On Credible Lenders

A mortgage app can certainly provide many mortgage insights, but it’s not necessarily an able replacement for a broker who has dealt with many different lenders and knows the ins and outs. While an app can point you in the right direction, a broker will be able to keep you informed of all the little details.

Access To Better Rates

There are no guarantees that working with a broker will get you a better deal, but because brokers work in conjunction with a variety of different lenders, they can often get lower rates or special deals which you may not be able to find on your own.

Saving On Fees

In addition to assisting you with finding the best rates, a broker may also be able to minimize fees like the application and/or appraisal fees so that you can knock some of the costs off your mortgage. Since brokers have an established relationship with lenders, this is something you can use to your advantage.

All The Available Options

It can be overwhelming to go through all of the available lenders, and even a detailed app may not be able to provide this information. However, instead of the most popular current options, a mortgage broker will have lending information available from all kinds of institutions so you can choose what will work best.

 Making The Process Run Smooth

An app may seem like a time-saver with all the information at your fingertips, but having a broker to look through things for you can provide a lot of comfort and clarity. While you do have the option of diving in on your own, having an expert to help you over the hurdles can go a long way.

There are so many apps out there that can make life a lot easier, but mortgage apps may not be the place to start when it comes to your mortgage process. If you’re currently considering your options, you may want to contact a mortgage professionals for more information.

Don’t Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New Life

There are untold benefits to reusing old household items instead of tossing them. Not only are you reducing your ecological footprint, but you can also save lots of money by recycling what you’ve already bought. Read on for some common items that are easily repurposed.

Finish The Milk, But Don’t Toss The Jug

Go for plastic milk jugs instead of cartons and easily repurpose them as, for example, watering cans. Simply, and carefully, use a nail and a hammer to poke several holes in the lid. Go for the 2-litre jugs if you only have one or two indoor plants, and the 4-litre if you have more.

Mason Jars, Beer Bottles And Applesauce, Oh My!

Glass containers are brilliant as storage, in the kitchen or elsewhere – why not use a jar as a toothbrush or writing utensil holder? Beer bottles or other narrow-necked containers become flower vases. Jars with tight screw lids and a narrowing neck, like applesauce jars, can become a travel-sized water or juice bottle. And all of these containers can be covered in fabric or paint, to make them functional and beautiful.

Broken Dresser? Don’t Chuck The Drawers

So your dresser broke? That’s okay. Drawers never go out of style. Use old ones as under-the-bed storage, or stack and secure them with the bottom against the wall for a DIY shelving unit. You can also fill them with soil and use them as planters in your garden or yard.

A New Take On Hand-Me-Down Clothes

Clothing is one of the most ubiquitous household items – which is perfect, because it’s also one of the most versatile. Cut up an old dress or collared shirt and, with a quick run through the sewing machine, you have a new baby dress or bib. If you use a scarf to wrap a present (for more info, look at “furoshiki” techniques), you’re giving an extra gift to your friend, and the planet.

Use Up The Floss And Break A Dish

Next time you’re traveling, finish up the floss first and use the container to store cash. This recycles the container and it disguises the money in case of burglars. And if you break a dish, don’t worry – you can smooth the edges of the broken pieces and use them as mosaic tiles, or a garden border, or jewelry.

It’s simple. To start saving money, and the planet, use these easy ideas, or reach out to your local real estate agent for more tips and tricks on how to reuse old household items in funky, handy ways.

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

livingroom-bean-bag-chairMost sellers focus on finding the right furniture to stage their home, but they never consider how the placement of that furniture can undo all their hard work. It’s a subconscious thing, but the arrangement of items in the home can really make a difference with buyers.

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

Keep The Traffic Flowing

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

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

Decide On A Focal Point

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

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

First Impressions Over Function

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

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

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

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

mastomys-mice-nager-rodents-55840-largeThere are things that everyone shares: the need for food, the search for love, and the intrusion of mice into our homes. But don’t despair! There are several ways to deter and remove mice. Read on to learn about a few of the more well known, if a little out-there, methods.

Peppermint Oil And Cotton Balls

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

Dryer Sheets

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

Snake Feces. Yes, You Read That Right

A mouse won’t stick around a house that smells like a predator. If you can source dried snake feces, place that around the outside of your home near where the mice have been getting in as prevention. But be careful: make sure that the feces are out of reach of children or pets, as they can be a health hazard.

Mousetrap! The Glass Bowl Version

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

Plug Those Holes!

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

And that’s it! Keep an eye out, and call in help if it becomes too much to handle – these steps are most effective for a small number of rodents. If you need more help, call your local real estate agent for advice and referrals.

 

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future Problems

solar-panel-array-power-sun-electricity-159397-largeSolar-powered homes are becoming more commonplace, and are an excellent step in the right ecological direction. That said, there are some aspects to consider if you’re thinking about investing in solar energy. Read on for some salient points about living by the sun.

 

The Sun And The Economy

As solar power has grown in popularity, governments have introduced incentives to help homeowners combat the once-high costs of purchasing and installing solar panels. Now it’s down to $4/watt in some areas, and companies are springing up to rent you panels and cover the cost of installation. This means that your initial costs are smaller, but also that those third party companies reap the government incentives – and may not always maintain strong relationships between you and your utility company.

The Sun And Your Roof

Roofs are the primary locations for solar panels, particularly on homes. Ensure that your roof has enough strength for the added weight of the equipment, and enough space for the proper placement (away from the edges, for example). The equipment comes with a lifetime guarantee so if the roof it’s on is already old, consider updating it before installation (which is an extra – but necessary! – cost).

The Sun And Your Surroundings

A solar-powered home is all about location, location, location. Watch for tall and shady trees, or for high buildings that will shadow your panels and decrease or prevent their output. Look forward, too – are there any plans for development in your neighborhood that would introduce such impediments in the future?

The Sun And Cloudy Days

The most obvious hiccup with solar power is that bane of a sunny existence: cloudy days. Location has influence here too: the climate of your area will determine how many panels you’ll need, where you’ll need to place them and how much energy you’ll be able to glean in each season. There are batteries you can purchase for collecting and storing solar energy – but they’re still an expensive option. And solar power is still somewhat unattractive in the global economy because of how variable it is. Fossil fuels are more dependable, and therefore more marketable, than an energy source so tied to the weather – although that looks to change if solar energy continues its rise in popularity with the masses.

All things considered, there is a deep and growing draw to solar-powered homes, but don’t enter into anything without looking at all sides of the equation. If you have questions, or want to know more about how solar energy works in your neighborhood, contact your local real estate agent.

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment

forest-meadow-leaves-autumn-largeAutumn is a popular time for new home buyers to start looking for their first house or condo. But with that down payment looming, everybody could use a bit of help saving up to make that bulk payment a little less intimidating.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to save up that may seem small, but will quickly add up and put a dent into that down payment.

Create A High Interest Savings Account

Talk to the bank about creating a secondary savings account with a higher interest rate. These super savings accounts usually come with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period of time. Using this account for the down payment works in everybody’s favor because it guarantees those extra dollars cannot be used for any other purpose.

Discard One Guilty Pleasure

Enjoy Starbucks coffee? Grab a pint every happy hour? Choose one vice and put the amount that would be spent on it into a jar. Most people will be surprised on how much money they spend each month on one guilty pleasure that can easily be cut out of their life. Every perk that’s cut will increase the amount by a decent margin.

Put Away Any Bonus Money

Holiday bonuses from work, tax refunds, birthday or Christmas presents, income from side gigs, any and all extra dollars that come in from any source outside of the main paycheck should be considered ‘down payment dollars.’ Sure it’s tempting to use that nice bonus or tax refund on a weekend trip or a night out, but all extra income should be saved away for that initial down payment.

Bring On The Roommates

People who already own a home and are looking to relocate can take this unconventional approach. Decent housing is hard to find so anybody with an extra room can rent it out and put that money towards the new house. Having a roommate can be a pain, but it’s for a limited time and can add up quickly.

While saving for a down payment can be stressful, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your local real estate professional will be able to guide you and provide some helpful tips for how to make that down payment without breaking the bank. These men and women have seen countless couples go through the same thing and their experience can make a world of difference.

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

business-money-pink-coins-largeIt’s often the case that people will opt to postpone home ownership until the best rates are available or it’s a more stable investment, but in an ever-shifting market it may not be the best decision to put such a sizeable investment off. If you’re wondering whether or not you should put off investing in a home, here are some reasons you may want to start putting your time into searching for a home.

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

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

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

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

It’s A Good Time To Buy

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

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