Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home Shopping

Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home ShoppingThere are many people who are considering buying a home because the current market is so attractive. With the ability to carry out virtual tours, this makes it even easier for people to find the home of their dreams.

While the fun part is looking at houses, it is important to get pre-approved for a home loan first. There are a few reasons why everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of shopping for a home. 

This Provides A Chance For People To Get Their Finances In Order

Buying a home is a major decision. For many people, this is going to be their biggest investment. For this reason, it is critical for everyone to have their finances in order.

Of course, some people might think that their finances are fine when, in reality, this might not be the case.

For example, someone might be self-employed and think they are doing well; however, many lenders will not accept self-employment income as “reliable” unless they see at least two years of tax records. Furthermore, because those who are self-employed often take large tax deductions (due to business expenses being deductible), their gross taxable income is also lower.

This can be a problem for lenders who want to make sure their borrowers have a high gross taxable income to pay back the loan.

Increases The Attractiveness Of An Offer

If someone finds a house they love, there is a strong chance that someone else has fallen in love with the home as well. The seller wants to make sure that whoever is providing an offer on a home is a serious candidate. With a pre-approval letter, this makes the offer far more attractive.

This is because the seller knows that nothing is going to hold up the sale. If someone isn’t pre-approved, there is a chance that they might make an offer on the home only to have it stonewalled by the lender. This can be frustrating for someone who is trying to sell a home.

Avoid These Problems By Getting Pre-Approved

In order to avoid these problems, everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of searching for a home. By getting pre-approved, people can expedite the home buying process.

The Basics Of A Mortgage

The Basics Of A MortgageThe vast majority of people who are interested in buying a home are not going to be able to pay cash for the home. Even for those who can buy a home in cash, they often would rather take out a loan to avoid pulling money out of their investments where they would have to pay capital gains taxes.

Those who take out a loan to buy a home will apply for something called a mortgage.

Simply put, a mortgage is a loan that someone uses to buy a home. Mortgages are very specific to the real estate industry; however, they are similar to other loans. People borrow money to cover the difference between the down payment and the cost of the house.

Then, they pay back the loan over a specified period of time with interest. For those who are buying a home, it is important to understand the basics of a mortgage.

Qualifying For A Mortgage

First, anyone buying a home has to qualify for a mortgage. Most lenders will have a set of criteria they use to approve someone for a loan. Some of the factors include:

  • Many borrowers will have to meet a minimum credit score which lenders see as a reflection of someone’s ability to pay back a loan on time
  • Lenders will also need to see that someone has a proof of income (or proof of assets) so that they know the individual can afford to pay back the loan
  • Finally, lenders will also want to see what other debts someone is carrying such as a car loan, student loans, or credit card debts

The lender is taking on risk by providing a mortgage to someone. They want to make sure the borrower is going to reliably pay the loan back.

The Terms Of The Mortgage

Once someone has been approved for a loan, they need to figure out what the terms of the mortgage will be. Some of the variables include:

  • The length of the loan
  • The size of the monthly payments
  • The total amount of the loan
  • The down payment required for the loan
  • The interest rate on the mortgage
  • The presence (or absence) of private mortgage insurance, or PMI

It is critical for everyone to talk with an experienced professional to make sure they understand the terms of the mortgage.

Routine Maintenance Of Various Systems In Your Home

Routine Maintenance Of Various Systems In Your HomeWhen you are a first-time homeowner, learning about your property can feel overwhelming. There are a number of systems in your home that require routine maintenance. Knowing when to have system serviced will help keep your home running smoothly. From the plumbing in your home, to the heating and cooling, understand that each system may need routine maintenance from time to time. 

Your Heating And Cooling System

To maintain comfortable air temperatures in your home, it’s important to keep your heating and cooling system up-to-date. If you have a whole home system, it should be serviced once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. When you get filters changed, and your system serviced, you are less likely to have to deal with emergency repairs. In addition, your HVAC system will run more efficiently.

When You Have A Septic System

Waste water leaves your home either through the town sewer system or through a septic tank. If you have a septic system on your property, you need to have the system serviced every other year. Check the records of your septic system to see when it was serviced previously.

Address Plumbing Issues

A leaky faucet is a localized problem, while discovering that all of the drains in your home are draining slowly is systemic. You need to repair small leaks to avoid wasting water in your home, while systemic problems must be addressed by a professional. If your drains aren’t working correctly, you may have a block in your main sewer line. Know where the main shut off valve is for the water coming in to your home in case of an emergency.

Electrical Needs In Your Home

Your home has an intricate electrical system that is controlled by an electrical panel usually located in your basement. When a circuit trips, you will need to reset the circuit breaker. If your home consistently has problems with a specific circuit, you’ll want to have the circuit checked by an electrician to see if it is overloaded.

It’s exciting to own a home for the first time. Once you understand the various systems in your home, it becomes easier to take care of your property. With good maintenance, you can help avoid emergency repairs to your home. Your heating and cooling will be more efficient, and you won’t run in to problems with your septic system if you have one. If there is something you don’t understand in your home, call a professional to get the problem looked at.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 1, 2020Last week’s economic reports included monthly readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA home prices, and readings on new and pending home sales. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices: Home Price Growth Pace Increased In March

National home prices rose at a year-over-year pace of 4.50 percent in March from February’s reading of 4.20 percent. According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home prices rose by 0.40 percent to a year-over-year growth rate of 3.90 percent.

The three cities reporting the highest rates of home price growth year-over-year were Phoenix, Arizona with 8.20 percent year-over-year growth; Seattle, Washington reported year-over-year home prices growth of 6.90 percent. Charlotte, North Carolina reported 5.80 percent home price growth.

Analysts said that Seattle home prices rose despite the Seattle metro area having a large outbreak of Covid-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic. April readings on home price growth are expected to dip into negative readings reflecting the spread of the coronavirus and its increasing impact.

17 of 19 cities reported in the 20-City Home Price Index for March had higher growth rates than in February; the Detroit metro area did not report data for the March 20-City Home Price Index.

The FHFA Home Price Index reported 5.90 percent year-over-year home price growth for March as compared to its February reading of 6.10 percent home price growth. FHFA reports on home sales connected with properties that have mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

New Home Sales Increase in April as Pending Home Sales Fall

Sales of new homes rose in April although many areas were under stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. 623,000 new home sales were reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to the March reading of 619,000 sales of new homes. Pending home sales were -21.80 percent lower as compared to the March reading of -20.80 percent. Fewer pending home sales reflected impacts of the pandemic as government agencies issued stay-at-home orders and citizens faced financial uncertainty and health concerns.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were nine basis points lower at an average rate of 3.13 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged eight basis points lower at 2.62 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.13 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower at 2.12 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.45 million initial jobless claims filed. While fewer claims filed is good news, readings for initial jobless claims far exceeded typical numbers of new jobless claims filed before the pandemic.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home’s Value

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home's ValueYou’ve probably heard that living near excellent schools or having curb appeal can boost the value of your home. However, a home’s value is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Some of these things are more obvious than others. Things that might seem insignificant can have an impact on your home’s worth. Here are some surprising things that can affect the existing value of your home or how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

#1 A Blue Kitchen or Bathroom

Painting your home is an easy and cost-effective way to update your home. Just make sure that you select the right colors. Based on recent research, walls that are painted cool neutral colors like blue are more likely to appeal to buyers. According to a 2017 study by Zillow, homes with blue bathrooms sell for an average of $5,500 more than expected. Houses that had blue kitchens sold for $1,809 more compared to similar homes that had a white kitchen.

#2 How Close You Are To A Supermarket

Being next to a well-known supermarket can increase the value of your home. If the supermarket is considered upmarket, then the increase in value is even higher. According to “Zillow Talk, The New Rules of Real Estate,”  homes that are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store appreciate up to 40 percent faster than other homes. The presence of a popular store like Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on market values over time.

#3 A Joanna Gaines’ Aesthetic

Joanna Gaines’s urban farmhouse aesthetic is more than just chic; it can have a surprisingly positive effect on the value of your home. According to a Zillow analysis of home sale descriptions from 2016, houses that had the keywords “farmhouse sink” and “barn door” sold quicker and at a premium compared to similar homes. Listings that had the words “barn door” sold 57 days quicker and for 13.4 percent more than similar homes. For sale listings that included a “farmhouse sink” sold for 8 percent more. So, if you plan to make interior updates in your home, you might want to watch a couple of episodes of “Fixer Upper” for inspiration.

#4 Your Proximity to Starbucks

Do you live within a quarter of a mile from a Starbucks? If so, then you are in luck? A study released by Zillow in 2015 found that homes that were within a quarter of a mile from the Seattle-based coffeehouse increased by 96 percent on average from 1997 to 2014. This number is well above the average of 65 percent of all U.S. homes.

Whether you are in the process of buying a new home or updating your existing home, think about the above factors as they may play a role in the value of your home.

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During COVID-19 PandemicNearly everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. While many people are getting tired of being cooped up in their homes, the home improvement industry has actually been able to stay afloat. Furthermore, it is actually thriving. Because many people are trapped in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are thinking about carrying out a home remodeling project. For those who are wondering about the prospects of such an undertaking, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. 

The Pros Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

There are a few benefits that people should note about remodeling during this time. They include:

  • There is more time to plan out the project. With extra time, people can compare costs, take virtual tours of showrooms, and even check out some of the latest designs. 
  • There are even some brick and mortar showrooms that are still open. While many people are nervous about venturing out during the COVID-19 pandemic, these showrooms are still maintaining proper social distancing measures to keep their staff and customers safe.
  • Finally, there are also a handful of discounts available to those who are remodeling during this time. Because they are eager for business, they are often wiling to slash the prices to help someone get their project done.

These are some of the biggest benefits for people to note; however, there are also a few drawbacks as well.

The Cons Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Some of the disadvantages of trying to start a home remodeling project during this time include:

  • There might be a shortage of materials available to carry out the project. It might take time for companies to restock their inventory, delaying the start of the project.
  • While some items are cheaper, others are more expensive because the supply has dried up.
  • For those who might being a challenging financial situation during the pandemic, there is a risk of spending too much money as the project gets going.

For these reasons, it is important for everyone to carefully weigh the pros and cons of starting a home remodeling project during this time. While there are some attractive offers, everyone’s individual situation is different. People need to think about what is right for them.

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying Overwhelming

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying OverwhelmingMany millennials are reaching the age where they are thinking about buying homes for the first time. It turns out that many members of this generation are finding this process challenging. Even though the housing market is great for those looking to buy, surveys indicate that this generation also finds the process overwhelming.

Reports have been published showing that many millennials are planning to buy their first home in the next year, showing that owning property is still a strong part of the American dream. Furthermore, many millennials also know that this is a great time to buy. Why are millennials finding this process so challenging?

Student Loan Debt

One of the biggest reasons why millennials are having issues purchasing a home is student loan debt. When someone is looking for a home, any potential lender is going to take their existing debt into account. It is no secret that student loans are a major issue right now.

With numerous millennials saddled with student loan debt, this makes it hard to qualify for a mortgage. While other forms of debt are easier to pay back, student loan debt is not. Some millennials have student loan debt that looks like a mortgage. 

A Poor Understanding Of Costs

Even though millennials may look at their rent payments as a solid barometer for their mortgage payment, there are other costs that millennials need to consider. These include real estate taxes, HOA fees, homeowners’ insurance, and potential repairs. Therefore, they might need to reset their expectations.

Comparison Is A Dangerous Temptation

Finally, too many millennials are tempted by what they know. Many millennials end up moving back into their parents’ house after they finish school. The job market can be tough and they think this is a great way to save money. On the other hand, this also means they might end up looking for a house that is similar to their parents’. 

Many millennials have set the bar high for their first home. A property like their parents’ simply isn’t within the budget. An unwillingness to accept this makes it harder to find a home. On the other hand, there are affordable homes out there. Millennials simply need assistance to find them.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 26th, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 26th, 2020

Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions and reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress about the impact of Covid-19. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Improves in May

Home-builder confidence rose seven points in May to an index reading of 37; April’s reading of 30 was the lowest reading for the NAHB Housing Market Index since June 2012. Low mortgage rates and expectations that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic had passed contributed to higher readings for builder confidence.

Component readings in the Housing Market Index were higher in May; builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 42.

Builder confidence in home sales within the next six months rose ten points to 46, and the reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose from 13 to 21. Readings below 50 are historically common for buyer traffic, but mandatory shelter-at-home rules kept more potential buyers away.

NAHB Housing Market Index readings above 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were positive about U.S. housing markets. Readings below 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were pessimistic about housing conditions.

Fed Chair Urges Congress to Help Pandemic Victims

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress and said that those impacted by Covide-19 should receive as much assistance as possible. While Congress approved Federal Reserve Loans to mid-to-large businesses,  Mr. Powell reminded Congress that they must also do as much as possible to help low to moderate-income families and businesses and cited a Federal Reserve study that reported 40 percent of households making less than $40,000 lost a job within the first month of the pandemic.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes, Housing Starts, and Building Permits Issued Fall in April

The Commerce reported lower readings for sales of pre-owned homes, housing starts, and building permits issued in April. Sales of previously owned homes fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.33 million sales as compared to the March reading of 5.27 million sales. 

Housing  Starts fell to an annual pace of  891,000 starts in April as compared to 1.276 million starts reported in March. The Commerce Department reported 1.074 million building permits issued on an annual basis; this reading was also lower than the March reading of 1.356 million permits issued but was higher than the expected reading of 996,000 permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.70 percent and were two basis points lower than for the prior week.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.17 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent f04 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reported by states fell to 2.44 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.69 million initial claims filed.  The reading for state and federal jobless claims filed rose from 3.21 million to 3.30 million as applicants applied for additional jobless benefits offered through federal pandemic relief programs.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, the FHFA Home Price Index, and data on new home sales. Monthly readings on inflation and consumer sentiment are scheduled along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb Appeal

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb AppealAttractive landscaping is one of the first things that potential home buyers notice. They may see the landscaping in the photos of a home for sale or may even do a physical drive-by. The view of the property from the street is called “curb appeal.” It is important to make this be as nice as possible.

In many parts of the country, there are pressures on the water supply that make having a lush-green, living lawn very costly or even prohibited by the local regulations. Innovative technology and the use of natural ground covers, such as stone and rocks are replacing the green lawns that most people think of when considering landscaping a home properly.

Here is a guide to some landscaping that is attractive and worth considering to make a home look spectacular and require little maintenance:

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has improved dramatically over the past few years. There is no longer the need to use the obvious green plastic covering of cheap fake grass. The newest artificial turf products look so much like real grass that it is nearly impossible to tell that they are not real. They can be installed over drainage rock and washed down with water like real grass.

Decorative Concrete

Molded concrete is now available in so many surface treatments, textures, and colors that it can represent almost any popular covering. For example, a nice European-style, cobbled-stone, street look is a popular choice for driveways and walkways. It is made out of molded, colored concrete, not stone, and installs easily.

Rock And Stone

Replacing areas of grass in the front yard with decorative rock and stone makes a nice look. It is better not to use wide swathes of this ground covering in big blocks. Instead, for a better aesthetic appeal, use natural rock and stone to create unique, eye-catching areas. For example, surrounding a wishing well with a nice circular area of rock pebbles creates a nice look.

Artificial Trees And Bushes

Advancements in the manufacturing of artificial bushes and trees developed very convincing products that are durable enough for exterior installation. Some best looking ones are the evergreen bushes.

They come in perfect heights of various sizes. They never need watering or trimming to make them look attractive. The only maintenance that they need is the occasional spray washing to remove dust and things that might fall on them like leaves from neighbor?s trees.

There are many to choose from. The modest-sized bushes are very inexpensive and usually less than $50 each. At the other end of the spectrum, are the exotic 11-feet tall artificial cheery trees that have built-in LED illumination. These are very dramatic and cost many thousands.

Summary

With these interesting ideas to consider, take a look at landscaping in a new way. Even though artificial landscaping requires an upfront investment, it can last for many years and may reduce overall maintenance costs significantly. If you ever want to sell the home, there will be much less landscaping needed to get it ready for sale.

Loan Programs For Lower Income Buyers

http://bringtheblog.com/i/Real_Estate_Terms_The_Debt_to_Income_Ratio_and_How_It_Affects_Your_Home_Purchase.jpgOwning a home may be the American dream, but for many who are in a lower income bracket, finding a loan can become challenging. Thankfully, there are several loan programs that can work well for lower income people considering homeownership. Here’s a closer look at some of these home loans designed to help people who have a low-to-moderate income find a way to buy a home.

FHA Home Loans

FHA home loans are loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Lenders are more likely to lend to “higher risk” borrowers through the FHA loan program because the loans have the FHA’s backing.

With the FHA loan, a borrower can have a credit rating as low as 500, as long as there is a reasonable explanation for it, and a fairly high debt-to-income ratio. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, these loans require only a 3.5% down payment, which can come from gifts, and have less stringent requirements for credit rating or income.

USDA Rural Development Loans

If you are shopping for a home in a small town or suburban area, you may qualify for the USDA rural development loan program. Only those borrowers who make no more than 115% of the average median income in their area qualify for this loan program, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

USDA loans require no down payment and the loan has no debt-to-income ratio maximum. It has a low PMI fee even for a zero-down loan, and fair interest rates. For those who live in areas that qualify, the USDA rural housing loan simply makes sense.

97% Loan-To-Value Purchase Loans

One of the biggest challenges for lower income borrowers to overcome is the down payment, but the 97% loan-to-value loan makes that less of a concern. This program, which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have offered to help encourage more people to get loans, allows people to buy a home with just 3% as a down payment.

The 97% loan-to-value purchase loan is specifically for first-time buyers. Borrowers must not have owned a home within the last three years to apply.

This loan program offers fair interest rates and does not have stringent credit score requirements. Borrowers can use gift funds to pay for the 3% down payment if necessary.

As you can see, there are many home loans designed for lower income borrowers. If you are looking to buy a home but worry you can’t afford it, consider one of these options.