The 4 Most Common Mortgage Questions, Answered

people-apple-iphone-writing-largeMaking the decision to purchase a home is one of the most significant investments most people will make in their life, and this automatically means there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before putting any money down. If you’re considering making the leap, here are some insights into some of the common questions you might have.

 

How Much Should You Put Down?

 While many home buyers have the option of putting as little as 3% down in order to purchase a home, there are benefits to saving up for a down payment and putting in 15 or 20%. Because your interest rate will be higher on a lower down payment, putting more down can mean a lower overall price tag and monthly payments that are automatically minimized.

 

Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage?

 While a fixed rate mortgage can be good for homeowners who are new to the market due to its stability, a variable rate can be hard to rely on because it can change all of the time. Fixed rates can end up costing more than variable rates in the event of low interest rates, but it’s important to determine your comfort level with the market is before deciding on your mortgage type.

 

How Will The Lender Assess You?

 There are a number of different factors that lenders will assess you on including your income, personal debt load, employment and credit history. While it’s important to be in the good books for these reasons, a credit score that is lower than 680 does not means you will not be able to find a lender; it simply means that you may need to provide a higher down payment to mitigate the risk.

 

What Will The Monthly Payment Be?

 One of the conundrums of home ownership is being able to determine what you’ll actually be paying per month to purchase your home, but this number is dependent on the size of your mortgage, your interest rate, and the frequency of your payments. While you can consult your mortgage specialist about this, there are also many handy online tools you can use to provide some estimates.

Most homeowners, particularly those that are new to home ownership, have many questions when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of what a lender looks at and what you should put down, you’re well on your way to a healthy attitude towards ownership. If you’re currently considering buying a home, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

 

Pay Off Your Home Faster with These Mortgage Tips

accountant-accounting-adviser-advisor-159804-largeThe monthly mortgage payment that goes into purchasing a home is frequently the most expensive cost per month that most people will incur, and that means that it can be helpful to know the tricks of the trade in squaring away this payment more quickly. If you’re looking for some simple tips to get your mortgage paid off a little sooner, here are some pointers that will help you get to this goal.

 

Make Bi-Weekly Payments

 It may seem like enough of an expenditure to pay your mortgage once a month, but making payments every two weeks can actually greatly reduce the amount of interest you’ll end up paying.  For example, if your monthly payment happens to be $400, this would equate to $4800.00 in payments for the year. However, if you pay bi-weekly, this will actually increase your payment per year to $5200.00. While it may not seem like a significant difference, this can break down the principal and save you a lot of money on interest

 

Pay It Off With Extra Funds

 It can be so easy to get used to the standard payment schedule that putting extra money down just seems like a burden, but if you receive an inheritance, a raise or get a bonus at work, you may want to consider putting this extra money towards your mortgage instead of a splurge! While smaller monthly payments will decrease your mortgage over time, a lump sum can help you see the difference in your monthly payment right away, which is a boon for paying it down further.

 

Keep Up-To-Date On Your Mortgage Options

 Many people would rather forget about their mortgage and stick to what they’ve worked out when all’s said and done, but it’s a good idea to keep abreast of what’s happening on the market in case it can positively impact your mortgage. By keeping up to date on interest rates and more recent mortgage options, you may be able to negotiate a better deal or at least stay on top of your monthly payments in the event of an interest rate increase.

The monthly mortgage payment schedule can be a bit of a burden for many people, but there are ways to pay off your mortgage more quickly that can easily improve your sense of financial wellbeing. If you’re going to be on the market for a home soon, you may want to contact a mortgage professionals for more information.

On a Variable Mortgage? 3 Signs Your Mortgage Payment Is About To Increase

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For many home buyers who are new to the market, it can be very comforting to be on a fixed rate mortgage where fluctuating interest rates cannot have an impact on your monthly payments. While a variable rate mortgage can sometimes lead to significant savings at the end of the day, there are a few ways you can tell if your monthly payment is on the upswing.

 

An Increase In Your Home’s Value

 A marked increase in a home’s value is ideal for most homeowners who consider their home an important investment. However, the downside of an increase in the price of real estate is that your property taxes will probably be bumped up along with it. According to Josh Moffitt at Silverton Mortgage, “If your home value increases because of market conditions, taxes will follow, and it will cost more to insure the home.” In order to determine if a higher payment is on the horizon, you may want to take a look at the listings in your neighborhood.

 

A Lender Miscalculation

 Most people hope that a re-assessment of the value of their home will lead to a bump in its price, but if your monthly mortgage payments were calculated at a specific time during the transaction, this bump may mean a higher monthly payment for you. If there was some overlap between the assessment and the property transfer, or other fees were included in your payment, your real estate agent should be able to advise you on the best course of action you can take come tax time.

 

Insurance Renewal Is Up

 In the event that the homeowner’s insurance on your home is about to expire, there’s a possibility that you’ll be paying a bit more following renewal. Instead of leaving this to chance, ensure that your insurance company is communicating with you and keeping you abreast of changes. After all, while insurance is important to protect your investment, you have the option of looking into other insurance providers who may be able to give you a better rate.

It can be hard to plan for the increase in rates that can go along with a variable rate mortgage, but if your insurance is up for renewal and the value of the homes in your area has increased, a higher monthly payment will likely follow. If you’re currently considering your mortgage options, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

 

How to Sell Your Home Quickly in a Buyer’s Market

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Everyone wants a place to call home, but that doesn’t guarantee that homeowners will have an easy time selling their properties. Making sales depend on more than just curb appeal or the popularity of open houses.

 

Complicated factors like the economy, interest rates and regional regulations all drive the real estate market. It can make an incredible impact on the speed and ease of real estate transactions.

But not knowing the state of the market can be more than just a hassle. When real estate favors buyers, not adjusting the sales strategy can be a seriously costly mistake. Worse than that, it risks homeowners not being able to sell the properties at all.

 

Here are some stress-free tips will help sell homes in a buyer’s market, fast.

 

Pretty It Up

One of the most cost-effective ways homeowners can complete real estate transactions is to pretty up their properties.

The trick is to think big. If it’s clean and the backyard is tidy, all that’s left for home owners to do is to create a decorating theme that looks good. Sometimes all that’s needed is some decluttering and decorating to be desirable.

Working on attractiveness brings buyers to open houses and make them actually want to live there. This initial urge can turn interest into offers.

 

Price It Smart

It may be painful to accept, but cutting down the potential profit for a sale can be the difference between a quick transaction and one that lags behind. Homeowners have to price their homes at a reasonable rate compared to similar properties.

It’s crucial for homeowners to remember that their home isn’t the only property available on the market. Unless it’s priced competitively, it’s going to be much harder to sell in market where buyers have the advantage.

 

Throw In Extras

While homeowners need to keep the look and price of their properties top of mind, they shouldn’t forget how powerful details can be. Sometimes it’s the little things that can sway buyers from purchasing one home over another.

New appliances, a beautiful garden or newly polished floors are features that stand out to buyers who’ve already seen dozens of other properties. In the end, an extra or two thrown in might be the clincher that closes the deal.

Keep in mind that it’s hard to sell a home in a buyer’s market, especially if the homeowner is looking for a quick sale. Homeowners should reach out to a reliable real estate expert to learn more about making a property sale fast.

Buyer Beware: 4 Common Problems Home Sellers Try to Hide

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It’s easy for buyers to fall in love with properties when they’re looking at polished hardwood floors, new appliances or renovated kitchens. During open houses and showings, glamorous features get all the attention. However, these dream homes right away can be dangerous.

 

Asbestos and electrical wiring are hard to get excited about, but ignoring them can be a financial disaster. Buyers risk serious costs and a huge amount of hassle if they don’t do their research.

It can be daunting for buyers to do their due diligence. There are many factors to take into consideration and they’re not always obvious. Being fully prepared before putting down an offer can be difficult, even for the most experienced buyers.

Being confident is also hard when homeowners are actively trying to conceal problems. Despite this, making a fully informed decision can be a quick and easy process that anyone can achieve.

This list of the four most common problems home sellers try to hide will guide buyers every step of the way, from pictures to purchase.

 

  1. Risk of Water Damage

Water damage can be one of the most expensive issues homes can have. It’s also easy to ignore when they’re especially beautiful or unique.

Homeowners may also be tempted to conceal past, present and future problems, particularly if they’re looking to maximize the price of their homes or make a fast sale. Buyers will benefit when they watch for water damage when looking to make a purchase.

 

  1. Rotting Wood

Rotting or otherwise damaged wood is also relatively simple to forget about, but can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs. Poor drainage, termites and other factors are all factors that should be considered.

Whether it’s the deck or the floor, buyers need to be mindful of the status of wood components in homes.

 

  1. Damaged or Outdated Roof

Roofs aren’t the first things buyers notice, but they’re crucial parts of every home. Damaged or outdated roofs can cause considerable personal and financial stress.

Buyers need to keep important features that are out of sight like roofs top of mind when they’re looking to put down an offer.

 

  1. Codes and Other Regulations

Going through confusing building codes and other types of regulations can be a confusing task. Though it can be very time consuming, buyers can save themselves significant hassle and costs by being familiar with them. Consult a real estate professional for more information about how buyers can make an informed purchase today.

Budget-Friendly DIY Projects That Instantly Boost Curb Appeal

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We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but there’s no such rule in the housing market. Curb appeal is the external attractiveness of a home, and if you’re in the market for a house that first impression has a lot to do with your final decision. Alternatively, if you’re looking to sell, it’s an easy area to boost the attractiveness of your home.

 

Essentially, ensure your home is accessible and inviting to make it appeal to potential buyers. It’s like making new friends, and how you’re much more likely to approach someone who is smiling. Help your home smile by spending a little time and money on outdoor seating, open spaces and color. Note that homes that have personality make stronger first impressions, so also try to put some of yourself into the exterior of your home.

 

A Place To Sit

Outdoor seating inspires relaxation, providing a great first impression. Potential buyers can pause and get a sense of the community without feeling rushed. They’ll take in the external features of your home in comfort, and will be primed to imagine themselves sitting out there as new homeowners, sunning or sipping tea.

 

An Open Entrance

Open your home up – literally. Creating an uncluttered space in front of your home will help direct and draw buyers. Use pathways and lighting (lamps, candles) to clearly guide the way into your home. A well-lit pathway is not only visually appealing, but safer – and a confusing entrance could deter buyers before they even reach your house.

 

A Dash Of Color

Color draws the eye. Add flowers to the front of your house, or paint the shutters brightly to attract attention from the street. This will also help your home look tidy and put-together.

 

A Strong Front Door

The front door is the focal point of anyone walking up to your house. Why not paint it your favorite color, or decorate it with something that gives an idea of the interior, like a funky door-knocker or a wreath? Make sure the door is clean and everything works (knob, bell, hinges) to complete the look.

 

A Personalized Mailbox

If you have a mailbox out front, you can give it the same personalizing treatment. Paint it, or plant it in a flowerbed. Keep it clean, functional and inviting, and it’ll add to the overall impression of your house.

Riff off these easy, cheap projects to increase your home’s curb appeal. For more ideas or to get an expert opinion, contact your local real estate agent – they’ll know what works best in your neighborhood.

 

5 Tips to Make Moving With Kids Easier

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Sometimes a move is unavoidable, regardless of how much you or your kids’ would rather stay in your current home. If your young ones are not looking forward to a change in scenery, here are a few tips to help them make a smoother transition into their new home:

 

  1. Involve Them

Involving your children in the moving process will not only help them to better understand the move, it will also make them feel as though they are more in control of the situation.  By taking them to open houses they’ll become familiar with the neighborhoods you’re considering moving to, and will have the chance to see first-hand some of the benefits that a new home would offer over your current one.

 

  1. Say Goodbye

Moving can be an emotional time for children, and it’s important to allow them to face and embrace their feelings.  Hosting a goodbye party will provide closure to an important chapter of their life, and creating a memory book will offer comfort on days when they miss your old home.  It is totally normal for there to be some sadness associated with a move, so do not feel guilty if your child is upset, but be there for them if they struggle with letting go.

 

  1. New Beginnings

Although it’s okay for your child feel sad about leaving your old home, it will help their transition if you give them something to be excited for, such as a new bedroom.  By allowing your child to help plan and pick out the layout, paint colors, or bedding for their room, you will give them something to look forward to.

 

  1. No Bench-warmers

When it comes to packing and unpacking, don’t let your kids sit on the sidelines as mom and dad do all the work.  By helping you pack and unpack, your children will feel secure knowing that their belongings are all on their way to your new home, and will feel more welcome knowing where items have been put when they’re unpacked.

 

  1. Make Friends

Being the new kid on the block can be lonely, which is why it’s important to encourage your child to socialize within your new community.  Make an effort to meet the neighbors, enroll them in an extra-curricular activity, and schedule play dates with classmates if they have had to move to a new school.  It can be intimidating for a child to socialize when faced with a whole new environment, but a little extra encouragement can go a long way.

Considering moving your family into a new home?  Speak with a real estate professional who is experienced in family relocations today!

5 Signs That Fixer-Upper Might Be a Money Pit

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Deals are always appealing, especially in a hot market. So if you’re looking to buy a house and you see the chance to nab a fixer-upper for a low price, you’ll be tempted. Just be careful – sometimes that hidden treasure turns out to be a disaster. Here are five signs that the fixer-upper you’re eyeing should be left on the market.

 

Bad Location

 There are some things about a house that cannot be fixed, no matter how dedicated you are – like location. Check that the house isn’t next to an unsafe natural formation. An unsteady hill signals shifting ground, which means an unsteady foundation for your house. Consider what you would if you were looking for a new house – proximity to schools or work; accessibility of public transit, green spaces, grocery stores; trees or a garden on the property. If there’s nothing nearby, walk the other way.

 

Bad Layout

 In any house, including fixer-uppers, the layout of the rooms is a primary indication of how (or if) the space will suit your needs. Pay attention to how the space is organized – like where the kids’ bedrooms are in relation to the master bedroom. Keep in mind, though, that you can knock out non load-bearing walls and make more open-concept spaces – as long as you know which walls are which.

 

Bad Plumbing or Electrical Wiring

 Simple: if the plumbing or electrical system needs an overhaul, leave that fixer-upper alone. The cost of fixing those problems will outweigh the benefit of anything you save on the house itself.

 

Badly Done Renovations or Repairs

 If a house has had major renovations and is still listed as a fixer-upper, be warned. The renovations didn’t take the first time, and will have to be redone. Similarly, be wary if the house shows signs of natural disaster damage (flooding, foundational damage), or if there have been rooms added. They could be illegal additions, not to code. Avoid these!

 

Bad Bones

 This is the most important thing to watch for when fixer-upper-hunting, because these are the problems that will take time and money and energy, potentially turning your deal into an ordeal. The bones are the physical fundamentals of the house – the load-bearing walls, the foundation, the structural integrity of what’s holding it all together. If there is anything questionable about the foundations or the drainage – look for slanting floors and water damage, for example – this isn’t the fixer-upper for you.

We all like a good deal – but when looking for a house, be careful to consider what could turn a fixer-upper into a money pit. For referrals and advice, reach out to your local real estate agent.

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Home While on Vacation

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Everyone needs a vacation at some point, and worrying about your home should be the last thing on your mind while you’re out of town.

 

Here are 4 ways to boost home security when you’re not around:

 

  1. Enlist The Help Of Others

Even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time, asking someone you trust to keep an eye on your home can offer a big-time boost in security.

Hiring a house-sitter to collect your mail, mow your lawn, and make your house look lived in can be a great option for longer vacations, as physical changes to your property can tip-off burglars that you’re out of town.

For short trips, it is worthwhile to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.  Having someone who is aware you’re not around can nip crime in the bud, as they’ll be less hesitant to call the police if they notice any unexpected guests around your home.

 

  1. No Give-Aways!

Sharing your vacation photos on social media can be a convenient way to share your experiences with your friends, but it’s best to do so after you’ve returned home.  The fact that you’re not around is information that can easily fall into the wrong hands on the web, making you a target for crime.

If you decide to change your voicemail greeting while you’re away, be careful that it does not explicitly state that you’re out of town.  It’s fine to tell callers that you’re unable to accept calls for a period of time, but they do not need to know it’s because you’re a thousand miles away.

 

  1. Leave It To The Pros

If you’re looking for a security measure that’s even more reliable than your neighbors, it may be worthwhile to install a home alarm system.  Houses that lack security systems are burglarized more often than ones that have an alarm installed, making them a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers.

 

  1. Don’t Forget Internal Threats

It’s not only outside threats that you have to consider before heading on vacation!  Make sure you prep your home for your absence by unplugging any appliances (toaster, computer, TV) that are at risk of a power surge.

If you live in a cold climate and your pipes are at risk of freezing, ask someone you trust to stop by your home every few days to run the water.  Make sure to show them where the water main shut-off is in case a pipe bursts while you’re away.

Interested in more neighborhood safety advice? Contact a trusted real estate professional today!

4 Ways to Help Your Mortgage Transaction Close On Time

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When you’ve finally found the home you’re looking for at the right price, it’s easy to think that the hard part is over; however, there’s still a lot to do in order to ensure your purchase goes through without a hitch. If you’re tying up the loose ends on your home purchase, here are some things you should do to avoid any unnecessary delays.

 

Hire A Legal Professional

However much research you may have done in regards to buying a home, there’s still a lot of legal jargon in the closing documents that can be difficult for most people to understand. Instead of doing guesswork, you may want to use an attorney who will take the difficulty out of the documents for you so there will be no holdups with the paperwork.

 

Arrange A Home Inspection

A home inspection is a necessary step before the sale of a home, but this is an important one to get out of the way because it can seriously impact your home purchase. Because major problems can often be discovered during inspection, getting this out of the way and deciding if an item should be fixed or the total price knocked down will ensure there are no delays at the last minute.

 

Acquire Title Insurance

In order to make sure your property really belongs to you, it’s a good idea to have a title search completed to see if there are any claims to your future property that could invalidate your purchase. As this is a legal safeguard for your claim to your home, it will help you avoid unnecessary issues in the event of an unknown property claim.

 

Determine The Closing Costs

An escrow company is responsible for holding the funds until all aspects of a home sale are complete, but there are fees that go along with this service. Before you get to the end of the process, determine what exactly the company will be charging so that you can be prepared for the final total. While fees are legitimate, if you see a higher tally than expected, you may want to negotiate for a reduced cost.

Purchasing a home is a significant investment full of hurdles you might not be aware of, but by acquiring title insurance and having a legal professional look through your documents, you can make your home purchase go a little smoother. If you’re planning on purchasing a new home soon, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.