Key Points To Note When Drafting A Contract For A Remodeling Contract

Key Points To Note When Drafting A Contract For A Remodeling ContractThere are a lot of homeowners who are thinking about carrying out a home remodel during the current era; however, it is important to understand what goes into a home remodel contract. Even though it can be expensive to get the contract reviewed by an attorney, it is critical to take a close look at the contract to make sure the language is correct.

What are some of the most important points that homeowners should keep in mind when it comes to a contract for a home remodel?

Understand The Basics Of A Home Remodel Contract

First, it is important to understand the basics. The home remodel contract will have a lot of numbers and it can be challenging to understand. In general, the home remodel contract must state that the contractor is going to secure any and all necessary permits and approvals, the payment schedule, when the project will start, and when the project will end. Any home remodel contract should also contact the license number of the contractor and include a few days to rescind the contract without penalty should the homeowner change his or her mind.

Review The Payment Schedule

In addition to understanding the start and end dates, read the payment schedule carefully. The first payment should never be any more than 10 percent of the total cost of the job while the final payment should be approximately a third of the total cost of the project to ensure the contractor actually comes back to fix any issues should something go wrong with the project. The final details of a home remodel are important.

Don’t Jump On The Warranty

Finally, do not jump on the warranty even if it sounds great. A warranty for a home remodel is usually packed with a punch of exclusions that are instituted in favor of the contractor and not the homeowner. There are probably state statutes in place that provide much better protection than any warranty that is offered by a contractor. Furthermore, accepting the warranty will remove this protection from the state. Unless a lawyer says to take the warranty, it is better to turn this down and go with state regulations.

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Three Inexpensive Makeovers That Will Boost Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersWhen preparing to list your home for sale, you may be wondering who will buy your home. While this initial thought may be one spurred by curiosity, the fact is that understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for in a home may help you to position your home to sell more quickly and for a better price.

If you have determined that there are many younger buyers moving into your area, you may want to make a few changes that will add appeal to this target audience. While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.

Add Color to Molding and Trim

One of the hottest trends in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas.

Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.

Update Light Fixtures

If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes.

When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to young buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.

Redefine Outdated Spaces

In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind.

Today’s younger buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.

This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. This is just one of several options available that may give your home broader appeal to a younger audience shopping for a modern floor plan.

If you are thinking about renovating your home and you believe that you will likely attract younger buyers to your area, you can consider implementing some of these ideas in your space. 

An Overview of Amortization: It Plays A Role In Monthly Mortgage Payments

An Overview of Amortization: It Plays A Role In Monthly Mortgage PaymentsEven though this may sound like a fancy word, amortization is simply a long word for a straightforward topic. Furthermore, it plays a significant role in the determination of monthly mortgage payments.

Before taking out a home loan, homeowners need to understand how their payment schedule works and what this means for the future of the home loan.

Amortization refers to the way monthly payments are calculated to make sure that homeowners pay the same amount every month throughout the life of the loan. Even if homeowners do not stay in the house for the life of the loan, amortization will still play a significant role in the amount of money they receive if they decide to sell the home.

Amortization Plays A Major Role In Calculating Monthly Payments

First, amortization plays a major role in calculating monthly payments because it ensures that homeowners pay the same amount of money over the life of the loan. Even though there is interest on the home loan, and inflation will play a role in the value of money during the life of the loan, the monthly payment is going to stay the same. This is particularly beneficial to homeowners who are still working and believe that their income is going to go up during the life of a 15 year or 30 year mortgage. Even if their income goes up, and even if inflation plays a role, their monthly mortgage payments will still stay the same thanks to amortization.

Amortization Divides Interest And Principal In Monthly Payments

On the other hand, amortization also plays a role in calculating interest versus principal in monthly mortgage payments. At the beginning of the loan, the majority of each monthly payment goes toward interest on the loan. At the end of the loan, the majority of each monthly payment goes toward principal. This also means that if homeowners decide to sell their home at some point during the loan, they might not get as much money as they think because most of their monthly payments have gone toward interest and haven’t built up any equity. This is another key factor homeowners should keep in mind when it comes to amortization.

DIY Lovers: ‘Greenify’ Your Home with These Three Eco-friendly Home Improvement Projects

DIY Lovers: 'Greenify' Your Home with These Three Eco-friendly Home Improvement ProjectsAre you a homeowner who is searching for ways to make your home a bit more eco-friendly? Equipping your home with “green” improvements can save a substantial amount of energy and money, especially over the long term.

In today’s post we’ll explore a few projects that handy do-it-yourselfers can undertake in order to make a home a bit friendlier to the local environment.

#1: Focus on the Windows

Depending upon the time of year, windows have an impact on both heating and cooling costs. In the summer, older windows can drastically heat up a home causing cooling costs to skyrocket. In the winter, older windows can leak cold air within the home and let out the heat, which causes the heating costs to rise as well.

A simple replacement of older windows can save a homeowner as much as 30 percent on annual energy costs, as newer windows are more efficient at insulating the home against the weather conditions outside.

Combining a window upgrade with other energy-related changes can lead to even greater savings. For example, consider installing a ceiling fan in rooms that are generally occupied – such as the living room or family room – as these can circulate cool and warm air and help to reduce energy use.

During the colder months, use as much solar heating as possible. Open up curtains, and trim trees to allow for natural light to enter the home. The sun heats up the home through radiant heating, which is an effective and essentially free source of energy.

#2: Improve Your Insulation

A home that is properly insulated will help to preserve its heat and cool air. Heat can leak out from the home through cracks, but it can also occur through convection heating. The air within the home will eventually cool down from a steady decline of heat when the heat is transferred outside through the walls.

Beyond hot and cool air leaking out from the home, each room within the home can indirectly influence the temperature in adjoining rooms. This is especially true for the garage and any room that shares common walls. By using insulation in the garage, the home may cool down by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

#3: Install Smart Thermostats

Some green options simply mean a change in which type of appliances are used. In terms of a thermostat, a “smart” one like the Nest Thermostat can be installed. Use of one can cut energy costs by 20 percent, at minimum, by simply adjusting to the homeowners’ schedule.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 1, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 1, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency also reported on home prices and the Commerce Department released data on sales of new homes and pending home sales. The University of Michigan released its Consumer Sentiment Index, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Report Fastest Price Growth in 7 Years

The S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index reported December home prices rose at the fastest pace since 2014. The National Home Price Index posted a year-over-year home price growth rate of 10.40 percent in December as compared to November’s home price growth rate of 9.50 percent.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted December home price growth at a year-over-year pace of 10.10 percent as compared to November’s home price growth rate of 9.20 percent according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. Phoenix, Arizona home prices rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 14.40 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices held second place with 13.60 percent growth, and San  Diego, California held third place in the 20-City Home Price Index with 13.00 percent home price growth. 18 of 19 cities reported higher home prices;  Detroit Michigan did not report data for December.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported year-over-year home price growth of 11.40 percent in December for homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. High demand for homes and short inventories of available and affordable homes created challenges for first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Builders said that rising materials costs and labor shortages continued to impact new home construction.

 

New Home Sales Increase as Shortages of Pre-Owned Homes Persist

The Census Bureau reported 823,000 sales of new homes in January on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 850,000 sales based on December’s reading of 885,000 new homes sold. Homebuyers are turning to new homes as supplies of previously-owned homes are in short supply. Shortages of previously-owned homes continued as homeowners stayed in their homes due to economic uncertainty, unemployment, and ongoing concerns over the pandemic.

 Pending home sales fell by – 2.80 percent in January as compared to December’s reading of – 0.50 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose 16 basis points to 2.97 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose 15 basis points to 2.34 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 22 basis points higher at 2.99 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate home loans and 0.10 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 730,000 new claims filed from the prior week’s reading of  841,000 initial jobless claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims were also lower; 4.42 million continuing claims were filed last week as compared to 4.52 million ongoing claims filed in the prior week.

The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 76.80 for its Consumer Sentiment Index in February, as compared to January’s index reading of  76.20.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, job growth, and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

Common Mistakes The Experienced Homebuyers Tend To Make

Common Mistakes The Experienced Homebuyers Tend To MakeWhen people are looking at buying a home, there are a few common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make; however, there are mistakes that seasoned homebuyers make as well. What are the most common mistakes that people make when they are looking for a new home for the second or third time? There are a few key examples to keep in mind. 

Trying To Rush Through The Process

The first mistake that experience homebuyers make is that they try to rush through the process. They feel like they understand exactly how it is going to work because they bought a home the first time. Therefore, they end up rushing, making a few key mistakes in the process. Remember that this is an important financial decision and it is important to take the time to get it right. Nobody should try to rush through this process when they are looking for a new home. 

Not Thinking About Traffic Patterns

Lots of people try to figure out exactly how far they are going to be from school or work when they are looking for a home. On the other hand, people also need to think about traffic patterns. Just because a home is within a few miles of school or work doesn’t necessarily mean that the commute is going to be easy. Think about the traffic patterns before making a decision. 

Not Thinking About The Future Of The Neighborhood

Lots of people who are buying a home for the second or third time are planning on being in that home for decades. Therefore, it is important to think about the future of the neighborhood. What is going to happen in the local area? How is that going to impact property values? These are important questions that should be answered before signing on the dotted line. 

Think About These Mistakes Ahead Of Time

When experienced home buyers are looking for a new home, it is important to think about these mistakes ahead of time. When they take the time to think about these mistakes, they ensure they avoid them down the road. That way, they make sure that they end up with the right home at the best price possible.

 

An Overview Of Mortgage Points On Home Loans

An Overview Of Mortgage Points On Home LoansUnless someone works in the real estate or mortgage industry, there is a high likelihood that they are going to run into unfamiliar terms. Appraisals, underwriting, and private mortgage insurance are a few of the examples. One of the most common terms that people might run into is termed mortgage points. Even though the term “points” might sound positive, this is not always the case. What do people need to know about mortgage points? 

Mortgage Points Refer To Payments Due At Signing

When someone is negotiating for a home loan, they want to get the lowest interest rate possible. There are several ways that potential homeowners can get the interest rate reduced on their home loan. One option might be to increase the down payment. Another option might be to pay a percentage of the loan amount at signing.

Usually, mortgage points refer to a certain percentage of the loan amount that is due at signing. For example, someone who is being charged one mortgage point will pay 1 percent of the loan amount at signing. Why would someone want to pay a percentage of their loan early? 

Mortgage Points Are Usually Paid In Exchange For A Lower Interest Rate

The most common reason why someone might pay mortgage points upfront is that they can bargain for a lower interest rate. For example, someone might be able to pay one mortgage point in exchange for having the interest rate on the rest of the loan dropped by 0.25 percent. Therefore, points go both ways. It is nice that someone can pay mortgage points to have the interest rate lowered on their loan; however, is this the correct decision? 

Borrowers Have To Do Some Math

Ultimately, this comes down to a math equation. If a potential homeowner is forking over more money at signing, they are not going to be able to earn interest on that money in their bank account or the stock market. On the other hand, they will save money over the life of the loan because the interest rate will be reduced. Therefore, homeowners have to do some math and compare the interest they are losing by paying money upfront compared to the interest they are saving on the home loan.

 

Case-Shiller Reports Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in 7 Years

Case-Shiller Reports Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in 7 YearsS & P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported the fastest pace of U.S home price growth in seven years. National home prices grew by 10.40 percent year-over-year in December as compared to November’s reading of  9.50 percent home price growth on a year-over-year basis.

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported home price growth in 18 of 20 cities included in the index. Detroit, Michigan did not report home price data for December. Phoenix, Arizona held the top position in the 20-City Index for the 19th consecutive month with year-over-year home price growth averaging 14.40 percent. Home prices in Seattle, Washington home prices held second place with year-over-year growth of 13.60 percent. San Diego, California home prices grew 13.00 percent year-over-year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency released home price data for homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Home prices rose by 10.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to home prices in the fourth quarter of 2019. Home prices reported by FHFA rose by 3.80 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2020.

Idaho home prices reported by FHFA rose by 21.10 percent year-over-year.  Montana home prices grew by 15.50 percent; Utah followed closely with 15.40 percent home price growth. FHFA reported the highest pace of home price growth for cities in Boise, Idaho; home prices in San Francisco, California grew at the slowest pace. This data supports the trend of homeowners moving from costly metro areas to inland suburbs where they can buy larger homes for lower prices.

Rapidly Rising Home Prices Impact Affordability

While homeowners welcome quickly rising home prices, affordability issues worry real estate analysts and prospective home buyers. The covid-19 pandemic caused home prices to rise as homeowners fled congested urban areas for suburban and rural areas.

Supplies of available homes fall as demand for homes keeps rising during the pandemic. Millennials are in their peak home-buying years but many current homeowners are waiting out the pandemic to sell. Low inventories of available homes and rising building materials costs add to the shortage of homes in general and affordable homes in particular.

First-time and moderate-income home buyers face increasing challenges as home prices and mortgage rates rise. Mortgage approval standards are difficult to meet as rising home prices cause housing payments and down payment requirements to increase. In addition to property taxes and hazard insurance, buyers who cannot pay 20 percent down must also pay for mortgage insurance.

Skyrocketing home prices should ease when demand for homes slows, but that won’t happen until supplies of available homes catch up to buyer demand.

Three Tips For Reducing Your Closing Costs If You’re Looking Forward To Buying A Home In The Spring

Three Tips for Reducing Your Closing Costs if You're Buying a Home in the Spring Spring is aproaching fast and it is usually the busiest time of the year for home buying. After a long and cold winter, many people are ready to enjoy the nicer weather and begin to shop for a new home. Spring is also the perfect time for home buying for families with children because it allows them to move during the summer without interrupting school.

Home buying has costs associated with it other than the mortgage itself. Known as closing costs, these fees are a part of the home buying process and they are due at the time that the mortgage is finalized. Buyers, however, can negotiate these costs and reduce the expense with a little bit of effort and with the help of a good mortgage professional.

If you are thinking of buying a new home in the spring here are three helpful tips to reducing your closing costs.

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 adviser 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.

Third Party Fees

Some of the closing cost fees will be associated with third party vendors that must perform required services. Home appraisals, title searches, and costs for obtaining credit reports are some of the items included in this area. While these may be a little harder to negotiate because the lender uses specific companies to perform these services, it does not hurt to ask if you can use your own appraiser or title search company.

Zero Closing Cost Mortgages

Buyers may also wish to inquire about a no closing cost mortgage. This type of mortgage eliminates all closing costs. The lender covers all of the closing cost fees in exchange or a slightly higher interest rate on the loan. In most cases the increase is less than one-quarter of a percent. This type of loan can be very helpful to buyers. Buyers can then use the money that they saved on closing costs to help with the move.

With a little preparation, you can find the best mortgage product for the up-coming spring season. Be sure to contact your experienced mortgage professional, as they will be able to help you find the right mortgage for your specific needs with the lowest out-of-pocket expenses.

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.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 22, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 22, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued along with data on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builders Index Rises One Point in February

Homebuilder confidence rose by one index point to 84 according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Readings over 50 in the Housing Market Index indicate that most homebuilders are confident about U.S. housing market conditions.

Component readings for the housing market index were mixed in February. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes was unchanged with an index reading of 90; builder confidence in new home sales for the next six months fell by three points to a reading of 83. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments rose four points to an index reading of 72.  Before the pandemic, readings for buyer traffic in new housing developments were typically below 50, but the pandemic has created more interest in new single-family homes as families moved from congested urban areas to suburban areas.

Builders cited ongoing concerns including rising materials costs and affordability issues for first-time and low-income homebuyers.

Housing Starts Lower in January as Building Permits Rise

The Commerce Department reported fewer housing starts in January based on 1.58 million starts reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, 1.67 million starts were reported in December and analysts expected a pace of 1.68 million housing starts for January.

Building permits issued rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.88 million permits. Analysts expected a reading of 1.67 million permits issued based on 1.70 million permits issued in December. Winter weather conditions likely contributed to fewer housing starts, but builders took out more building permits in anticipation of improving weather and continuing demand for homes due to shortages of available homes for sale and higher demand due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors® reported 6.69 million sales of previously-owned homes on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as of January. Low inventories of available homes and high demand for single-family homes continue to drive home sales during the pandemic. Rising home prices caused by high demand and low inventories of homes for sale created affordability issues in suburban areas as well as traditionally high-priced metro areas.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by eight basis points to 2.81 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.21 percent and were two basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.77 percent and two basis points lower than the prior week.

Weekly jobless claims data was mixed last week with 861,000 initial jobless claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 848,000 first-time jobless claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims fell to 4.49 million continuing claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.56 million continuing jobless claims filed.

What’s Next

This week’s scheduled economic readings include S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Price Index, and data on pending home sales. The University of Michigan will issue its reading on consumer sentiment and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.