3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First HomeHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

  • Payment history
  • Credit utilization ratio
  • Debt-to-income ratio

Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

  • For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
  • Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
  • What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
  • How do the roads and sidewalks look?

Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home purchase process will be your trusted mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase to start the pre-approval process.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 18th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 18th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings on retail sales, inflation and construction spending. New home sales Consumer sentiment readings were posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Retail Sales Increase after Lowest Reading in 10 Years

Retail sales rose by 0.20 percent in January; analysts expected an increase of 0.10 percent based on December’s negative revised reading of -1.60 percent. Home centers and internet retailers led in overall sales; retail sales without the automotive sector were higher with an 0.90 percent increase in January, which exceeded expectations of an 0.40 percent increase.

December had a negative reading of –2.10 percent. Auto dealers had fewer sales to car rental firms and other business customers; the reading for retail sales excluding automotive sales rose 0.90 percent as compared to expectations of 0.40 percent more sales and December’s reading.

Inflation rose 0.20 percent in February, which matched expectations after a flat reading in January. Core inflation, which excludes readings for volatile food and fuel sectors, rose 0.10 percent, which fell short of 0.20 percent in January.

Construction Spending Rises as New Home Sales Fall

Commerce Department readings for construction spending rose 1.30 percent in January as compared to December’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. The end of the government shutdown likely helped return construction spending return to positive territory, but real estate and mortgage pros said that building more homes is the only solution to persistent shortages coupled with high demand for homes by would-be buyers.

Slim inventories and home prices rising in excess of wages and inflation are factors contributing to fewer eligible buyers. New home sales fell in January, which is not unusual for winter sales. 607,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January; 652,000 new home sales were reported in December, but analysts expected a lower reading of 616,000 sales for January.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week with rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaging ten basis points lower at 4.31 percent. !5-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.76 percent after falling seven basis points. 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent and were three basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims rose to 239,000 new claims last week; 223,000 claims were filed the prior week and analysts expected 225,000 new claims. Last week’s first-time jobless claims were the highest in ten years, but analysts said that layoffs haven’t risen significantly, which signals healthy labor markets.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence in March with an index reading of 97.80. The expected reading was 95.0 based on February’s index reading of 93.80. Increased consumer confidence in economic conditions suggests that more families will enter the housing market. Analysts said rising consumer confidence resulted from the resolution of the government shutdown.

What’s Ahead

Economic readings scheduled this week include reports on homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions, sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce departments on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve’s scheduled announcement will be followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be issued.

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should Know

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should KnowThe success of your real estate ventures depends on your ability to navigate the financial world. Learn these terms to make it easier to understand what’s going on with your real estate investments.

Cash Flow

Contrary to popular belief, cash flow isn’t just the amount of liquid assets you have available. Your cash and unused lines of credit are an essential indicator of your ability to complete projects and pay the cost of ongoing operations. However, these factors don’t tell the whole financial story.

Your actual cash flow is the difference between your gross income and your financial obligations. You can have a large cash reserve but still have a negative cash flow if you aren’t making enough to cover your obligations.

Gross Yield

When evaluating potential properties, it’s helpful to understand the gross yield. To calculate gross yield, divide the annual income you expect the property to produce by the property’s price. This number comes in handy for comparing properties and narrowing down your options.

Amortization

Lending institutions offer a variety of loan structures to fit your goals and financial standing. An amortized loan features a set amount of interest. This amount is integrated into each monthly payment. That means that borrowers are paying on the loan’s principal and paying down their interest liabilities from the very first payment.

Amortization is an excellent way to quickly build equity. This enables real estate investors to use existing properties to fund other projects without having to sell off their holdings.

Carrying Costs

Flippers and other short-term real estate investors need to keep a close eye on their carrying costs. These are all the expenses incurred after the initial purchase and before the property is sold for profit. Carrying costs include mortgage and interest payments, utility bills, taxes, and insurance.

The best way to limit carrying costs is to flip your property as quickly as possible. However, sudden changes in the market, illness, and other unexpected factors can prolong your need to make monthly payments. In this event, investors should carefully monitor their cash flow to ensure they don’t end up losing their entire investment.

Double Close

Wholesale home buyers often already have an exit strategy before signing on new properties. In this case, a double closing allows the wholesaler to purchase the property and sell it to a new buyer in a single transaction. This is also sometimes called a back-to-back closing.

Knowing these terms will make it easier for you to manage the financial details of your real estate investments as well as partnering with a trusted and skilled home mortgage professional. 

What Makes Up A PITI Mortgage Payment?

What Makes Up A PITI Mortgage PaymentMany mortgage payments are made up of four parts, called PITI. PITI is an acronym that stands for principal, interest, tax, and insurance. It’s important to understand PITI because it is the real number you need to use in order to find out how much mortgage you can afford to pay each month.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is using only the principal plus interest figure to calculate how much they’ll be paying every month for their mortgage. Then, when the lender comes back and denies them, the prospective buyer is confused. Knowing and understanding PITI will put you back in the driver’s seat with your home buying goal.

Principal

The principal part of your mortgage payment represents the amount of money that you borrow over the terms of the loan. For instance, if you borrow $100,000 and you have 20 years to pay them back, the principal that you’ll pay each month equals $100,000 divided by 20.

Interest

The interest portion of your mortgage payment is the percentage rate that your lender is charging you to borrow from them. Another way of looking at the interest is to think of it as the cost of borrowing money. Interest will be spread out over the length of the loan, just like the principal payment.

Tax

The tax portion of your monthly mortgage payment pays for real estate and/or property taxes. Real estate taxes are assessed by the local government where the properties located. The tax rate is determined by the government and is not influenced by your personal credit score.

Insurance

The insurance part of your monthly mortgage payment pays for homeowner’s insurance and/or private mortgage insurance. If you put less than 20% down on your home purchase, you’re required to have private mortgage insurance. This amount can add considerably to your monthly mortgage payment, so it’s worth it to try to hit that 20% threshold.

Otherwise, you have to wait until your loan to value ratio is 80/20. After that, you can request to drop the private mortgage insurance, but the homeowner’s insurance will still be part of your monthly payment.

Now that you understand what makes up a PITI mortgage payment, you’ll be better prepared to plan for your monthly budget that includes a mortgage payment.

Whether you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to learn about your current financing options.

 

 

 

6 Ways to Fight Foreclosure

6 Ways to Fight ForeclosureSometimes, things don’t go as planned. Despite the best intentions, there are times when it’s impossible for homeowners to fulfill their mortgage obligations. When your misfortune turns into a foreclosure notice, these tips will help you control the situation and realize the best outcome.

Work With Your Lender

Open the lines of communication with your lender to stall the foreclosure process.

  • Call your lender and explain your predicament. Give them specific details about the nature and estimated length of your circumstances. Many lenders are willing to temporarily modify payment terms to temporarily accommodate certain hardships.
  • Apply for a loan modification. If your credit rating has improved or market values have shifted in your area, it’s possible to negotiate friendlier terms that lower your monthly payments.
  • A forbearance allows you to pause or drastically reduce your mortgage payments for a short period. However, you’ll have to pay everything owed in a lump sum or via larger monthly installments.

It is in your lender’s best interest to keep you in your home. Contact them early to avoid unnecessary issues.

Take Legal Action

Keep the law on your side to ensure you have the best chance at keeping your home.

  • If you believe your foreclosure is unlawful or in error, you will have the chance to present your case in court. Respond in writing to the official foreclosure complaint as soon you receive it. This eliminates quick default judgments.
  • Talk to a lawyer about your case. Even if you can’t afford to retain one for the trial, invest in a short sit-down session with a knowledgeable legal representative to get the facts straight and ensure you’re ready to present your defense.
  • Personal bankruptcy is a final strategy for saving your home. Most chapter 7 and 13 filings allow you to keep your primary residence while reorganizing your debt.

Foreclosure is less of a threat when you understand the laws and procedures that govern the process. Educate yourself on your legal options.

A temporary setback doesn’t have to ruin your entire life. With these tips, you won’t have to lose your dream to foreclosure.

Contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Is Now a Good Time to Cash Out Your Home Equity?

Is Now a Good Time to Cash Out Your Home EquityFor many Americans, their home is their primary investment. The equity stored in your residence can be a source of available cash for home repairs, upgrades, or for financing the purchase of investment properties. However, few homeowners really understand the process that results in home equity. 

What Is Home Equity?

Your monthly mortgage payment goes towards two different amounts. The first is the interest that you pay for the loan. The other is your principal payment or the amount that counts against the initial amount that you borrowed for the purchase. Depending on the details of your loan contract, each payment is generally split between these two types of charges.

Over time the amount that you’ve paid towards the loan’s principal grows your equity position. With each payment, your equity grows as well. Once enough equity is accrued, many lenders allow homeowners to access those funds via an equity line of credit, home equity loan or a cash-out refinance. 

You’ll have to pay interest on any monies you withdraw from the second mortgage or higher loan amount upon your refinance. With home equity lines, however, these loans only charge interest on the money that you actually use. You can secure a home equity line of credit for a certain amount and not be liable for a penny in interest until your first withdrawal.

How Can You Calculate Potential Equity?

There are 4 main factors to consider when calculating your home’s equity.

  • Home value.
  • Monthly mortgage payments.
  • Down payment.
  • Any liens or additional mortgages on the property.

Imagine your home is currently valued at $300,000. With cash down payment of 20%, your home’s starting equity is equal to your initial $60,000 payment. Each payment slowly increases your equity until you have full financial ownership of your home.

Talk to your lender to understand how interest in applied to each payment. For fixed rate loans, you can easily figure out how much of your mortgage payments are immediately applied to the loan’s principal. An easy way to see this equity build up on a monthly basis is to reference an amortization schedule. Your lender should be able to provide this for you at no charge.

For property owners with liens and additional mortgages, add the value of those items to what’s still due on your primary mortgage loan before completing the calculations.

Home equity is a flexible financial tool that you can use to improve your property, expand your business, or treat yourself to something special. Plan carefully to get the most out of your home equity line of credit.

If you are interested in a refinance or a home equity loan, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 11h, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 11h, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on new home sales, construction spending, and housing starts. Data on building permits was released along with Labor Department reports on public and private-sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Slows as New Home Sales Rise in December

Commerce Department data for December indicated less construction spending than for November. Construction spending dipped by -o.60 percent as compared to analyst expectations of a negative reading of -0.30 percent. Construction spending grew by 0.90 percent in November.

Lower cash outlays for winter months are typical; severe winter weather likely slowed construction activity more than usual. Any downturn in building activity pressures housing markets that continue to struggle with short supplies of available homes and high buyer demand.

Sales of new homes rose in December; the Commerce Department reported 621,000 sales of new homes. Analysts estimated 600,000 sales based on November’s reading of 599,000 sales of newly-built homes. December’s reading was 3.70 percent higher than In November and was 7.00 percent lower year-over-year.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Issued Rise in January

Housing starts increased in January with 1.230 million starts annually, which was an 18.60 percent increase from December’s downwardly revised reading of 1.037million starts. 1.215million starts were expected. The revision of December’s reading contributed to the jump in January housing starts. Single-family housing starts rose 25 percent at a pace of 926,000 starts reported.

Building permits rose by 1.40 percent in January to 1,345 million permits issued as compared to December’s reading of 1.326 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week with rates for fixed-rate mortgages rising six basis points and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose three basis points. 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.41 percent; 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.83 percent and mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims were lower last week with 223,000 claims filed; analysts expected 225,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 226,000 first-time claims filed.

Labor Reports Show Slower Jobs Growth

ADP reported the lowest increase in private-sector jobs since November; February’s reading of 183,000 private sector jobs added reflected declines in jobs within the travel and retail sectors. The Commerce Department reported only 20,000 public and private-sector jobs added for February; this was the lowest reading in 17 months. Analysts cited severe winter weather and seasonal anomalies. Construction and shipping sectors were hardest hit in February.

National unemployment dropped from 4.00 percent in January to 3.80 percent in February.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on retail sales, inflation and the latest reading on construction spending. Lingering effects of the government shutdown continues to impact data released from the Federal government. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In Low

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In LowYikes! You are set on buying the home that you picked out and the appraisal comes back at a lower amount than the amount needed for the home loan to be approved. What do you do? After you calm down your significant other and then take three deep breaths, here are some options to consider.

Request A New Appraisal

Appraisals are only one person’s professional opinion. There are rules that must be followed when making an appraisal; however, there is still some flexibility in how to apply the rules. Check the comparables (also called “comps”) that the appraiser used as the basis for setting the appraised value.

There usually have to be at least three houses that are a similar size, similar age, have a similar condition, and are located in a similar neighborhood. If the home that you want to buy just had major renovation with a lot of work done on it, the appraiser may have missed this and should add more to the appraisal for the home having a better condition than the comparables.

Check to determine if any of the comparables are wrong. For example, if the appraiser uses a home that is in poor condition that may cause the appraisal to be too low. When there is another choice of a home in a better condition, which is more similar to the one being sold, the appraisal might be higher.

If you find problems with how the appraisal was done, request a review from your lender and see if they will allow you to pay for a second appraisal. Getting a new appraisal with a higher value is the easiest way to fix this problem.

If that does not work, then you can try these other options:

Negotiate With The Lender

Some lenders may cooperate with a loan restructuring if you qualify for a program with a higher loan-to-value (LTV). This may also require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your loan amount exceeds 80% of the appraised value of the home. Working with your trusted mortgage professional can lead to unexpected options to get your home purchase completed.

Negotiate With The Seller

Trouble may come up if an appraiser cannot find comps that meet the selling price of the home. This may be caused by the home having unique qualities, a market that does not have other homes like it, or possibly that the sale price is more than the home is actually worth. If the price of the home is actually too high based on the appraisal, the seller might lower the sales price in order to keep the transaction together.

Increase Your Down Payment

If the amount of the difference is small and you can cover it, you can still proceed by taking a lower amount for the loan and adding money to your down payment to make up the difference.

Find Another Home To Buy

Your purchase offer should be subject to obtaining financing. If the appraisal comes in low and that prevents you from obtaining financing at the original sales price, you likely will be able to cancel the purchase agreement without penalty and search for a new home.

Your trusted home mortgage professional is well-versed in these types of issues and ready and willing to assist you with your successful home purchase transaction.

Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

Sound Advice From Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price. 

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success.

As you are preparing to sell your home, be sure that you are also readying yourself for your next home purchase by making an appointment with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

Looking For A Major Lifestyle Change? Consider Buying A ‘Micro’ Home

Looking For A Major Lifestyle Change Consider Buying A 'Micro' HomeWith the sometimes high cost of buying and maintaining a home and the concept of being sustainable becoming more popular, many people are considering moving to a smaller home to minimize their impact. It’s important, however, to consider what living small is really like before deciding that it’s the right move for you.

If you’re curious about life on a smaller-scale, here are some things to contemplate beforehand.

Getting Rid Of The Excess

It’s just a fact that a smaller amount of space means a smaller amount of stuff, but many people don’t realize this works two ways. While you won’t be able to accumulate the same amount of stuff in a smaller home, you also won’t have the luxury of being able to take everything from a larger house with you. It may not be a big deal for you to pack things away or discard the old, but if you’re the type of person who likes stuff, you may want to re-consider micro.

Will You Miss The Space?

Many homeowners spend a lot of time outdoors or even traveling for work, so the size of their home may not matter that much. However, if you’re the kind of homeowner who loves to nest and have their space, the idea of lounging around a small home may not be for you. A micro-sized space can minimize costs and be easier to decorate, but if you like being able to spread out and luxuriate in a variety of surroundings, something undersized can be quite limiting.

Forget The Home Maintenance

Whether you live on a massive estate or in a studio apartment, there are minor things that need to be done to keep your space clean and clutter free. When it comes to smaller living though, there will be a lot less to do, and this can greatly impact your free time. It’s great if you’re the kind of person who has plenty of hobbies to keep them busy, but if you like taking care of the yard and doing an assortment of home maintenance duties, it may be a struggle to own a property that needs less tending.

It’s never been more popular to go ‘micro’ when it comes to home ownership, but it’s important to make sure small living is right for you before taking the leap. If you’re currently in the market for a ‘micro’ home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for specific lending information.