A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can Help

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can HelpIf you’re planning to remodel or renovate your home in the near future – whether to provide a better living environment or as part of a house flip – you’ll need to find a way to pay for your home improvements. There are several different possible sources of renovation money, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One option that is gaining popularity is mortgage refinancing.

How does mortgage refinancing work, and how does it compare to other renovation financing options? How can you use a mortgage refinance to get the most out of your renovation? Here’s what you need to know.

Home Improvement Investments: Which Renovations Generate The Best Returns?

If you’re considering a mortgage refinance in order to fund your home improvements, you’ll want to concentrate on doing renovations that increase your home’s value. Otherwise, you’ll be taking on more debt without gaining anything in return.

If you want to max out your return on investment, re-finishing your kitchen is your best strategy. Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost-to-value renovation analysis shows that new appliances, a new coat of paint, and new surface finishes in the kitchen generate the biggest returns. Meanwhile, swimming pools and home offices tend to generate the lowest returns because they appeal only to a select group of buyers.

Your Options For Financing Home Improvement Projects

Financing for a home improvement project is a critical consideration. Unless you can afford to pay $20,000 out of pocket for a remodeling project, you’ll need to secure financing of some sort.

Your options for home improvement financing include home equity lines of credit, renovation mortgages, and refinancing. A HELOC may not be an ideal solution, as repayment requires discipline, while a renovation mortgage (or home renovation loan) is typically used only for foreclosures and other properties requiring major renovation work.

Mortgage Refinancing: A Smart Option For Savvy Borrowers

If you’re looking to simply make improvements to your existing home, a mortgage refinance is likely your best option. A straight refinance gives you a lump sum of cash that you can use to pay for renovations upfront.

There’s also a “refinance plus improvements” arrangement, which can provide you with extra capital as you need it. Under this model, you can get up to 80% of your home’s post-renovation appraisal value – however, you’ll only get the money as the renovations are completed and inspected. With a straight refinance, you’re not out of pocket for any length of time.

Making smart home improvements is a great way to boost your home’s value and improve your living conditions. An experienced mortgage professional can help you to find financing for those renovations without a hassle. Contact your local mortgage advisor to learn more.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Approved for a Mortgage Quickly

The Do's and Don'ts of Getting Approved for a Mortgage QuicklyIf you’re ready to buy a home, getting approved for a mortgage is a critical step that you can’t skip or rush. And although it may seem like the lenders can be a bit arbitrary in their approvals, there’s actually a detailed set of criteria they look for when approving or denying an application.

So how can you ensure your mortgage gets approved quickly and without any hassles? Here’s what you need to know.

Do: Have All Your Documents In Order Right Away

Processing the paperwork on a mortgage approval is one of the most time-consuming parts of getting a mortgage. And if you forget to include a form or fill something out incorrectly, it may take your lender days or weeks to sort out the problem. So before you go to your lender to get approved, make sure you have all of the necessary documents and that they’re all filled out correctly – it’ll save you a great deal of time later.

Don’t: Accept A New Job Or Start A Business While Closing

Once it comes time to close on your mortgage loan, you’ll want to keep your finances as consistent as possible until after the closing. Any change to your financial situation can throw a wrench into the approval process and delay your loan. If you’re planning to quit your job to start a business, accept a new job, cut back your hours, or go on parental leave, wait until after the home sale closes.

Do: Get Pre-Approved With Your Lender

One simple thing you can do to greatly speed up the approval process is get pre-approved. If you’ve already been pre-approved for a mortgage through a certain lender, then securing a mortgage through that lender will be a very smooth process – and in some cases, a pre-approval can speed up your mortgage approval by a week or even more. With a pre-approval in hand, the only issue that remains to be settled with the lender is providing them with your new home address.

Don’t: Co-Sign A Loan For A Friend Or Relative

Any major purchase or new debt of any kind will read as a serious red flag for your lender, one that will take time to sort out. Your lender will do a second credit check just before closing the mortgage, and any new loan amounts can delay or stop the approval. So if a friend or relative asks you to co-sign their loan, wait until after your mortgage is approved.

Getting approved for a mortgage can seem challenging, but by following a few simple rules, you’ll make it easy for your lender to sign off. For more mortgage approval advice, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Major Mistakes Which Are Sure to Increase Your Closing Costs

Three Major Mortgage Mistakes Which Are Sure to Increase Your Closing Costs When shopping for a mortgage, it is important to take closing costs into account. While some closing costs are the same for all lenders, different programs may add or reduce some of the burden borrowers face when closing on a home loan.

Let’s take a look at some major mistakes that could result in borrowers paying more than they need to in closing costs.

1) Failing to Take Property Taxes Into Account

Property taxes are generally put into an escrow account that is established prior to closing on the home loan. In most cases, a homeowner will have to pay 12 to 14 months’ worth of property taxes prior to close.

This can represent several thousands of dollars or more depending on the property taxes associated with a property. While everyone has to pay property taxes, finding a home in a low tax area can significantly reduce the cost of closing on a loan.

2) Failing to Ask Lenders for Credits Toward Closing Costs

A lender may have a program in place that enables them to give a borrower a credit toward applicable closing costs. While this generally may not count toward the down payment, it can still be a significant help for first-time buyers or anyone else who may not have thousands in a bank account ready to pay for lawyers or titling fees.

Depending on where the property is purchased, there may be programs available that provide funding for those who promise to stay in the property for a certain amount of time.

3) Failing to Ask the Seller for Concessions

The seller of a property may offer up to 6 percent of any closing costs associated with the sale of the property. While a seller does not have to offer any concessions, they could potentially provide hundreds or thousands of dollars that may not need to be repaid.

In addition to closing cost support, a seller could also provide appliances or other items that can further save a buyer money during and after the purchase is finalized.

A home buyer can save a lot of money by taking simple and common sense actions. By doing research into cost saving programs and credits toward closing costs, those who may have felt that home ownership was beyond their reach may be able to achieve their dream. To learn more about closing costs, you may wish to talk to a mortgage professional in your area.

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let’s Take a Look

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let's Take a LookSo you’ve found the perfect home, the seller has accepted your offer, and now you’re just waiting for the mortgage to close before you wrap up the sale and take possession. It’s time for the closing meeting.

But what does this meeting entail? And what do you need to prepare for it? Here’s what you need to know.

The Day Prior: Walking Through The Property

24 hours before the closing meeting, you’ll be given an opportunity to walk through the property and do a final inspection. During this inspection, you’ll be able to look for any damage that may have occurred between contract and closing, which means you can negotiate repairs with the seller.

It can be a good idea to schedule your closing date around the 20th of the month, so that if you do find any problems during the walkthrough, you can address them before you take possession.

The Closing Meeting: Title Insurance, Contracts, And More

Typically, the mortgage closing and the home sale closing happen at the same time. During your closing meeting, you’ll need to sign – and bring – a variety of documents in order to take possession of the home. You’ll want to ensure that you bring your good faith estimate, proof of homeowners insurance, contract, and inspection reports to this meeting.

You’ll also want to bring any and all documents that you sent to your bank as part of the home buying process. At this meeting, you’ll discuss the sale with the seller, the seller’s agent, the representative from the title company, the closing agent, the lender, and any attorneys that may be present. By the end of the meeting, you’ll receive a variety of documents, including a deed of trust or mortgage contract and a settlement statement.

You may also be required to sign a mortgage note, which is a note that states you intend to repay the mortgage loan. This note details the terms of your mortgage, including the amount of the loan and what action the lender is entitled to take if you miss payments.

A mortgage loan closing meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Although there’s a lot that will happen at this meeting and there are a number of documents you’ll need to bring, a qualified mortgage advisor can guide you through the process. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today for a list of what you’ll need to bring and what you can expect to happen at your closing meeting.

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Keep Trying

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Keep TryingIf you’re in the market for a new home, you’ll most likely need a mortgage in order to afford it. But for some home buyers, getting a mortgage isn’t easy. Banks and other lenders are often hesitant to lend money to certain consumers, often for good reason.

But sometimes, lenders’ reasons for declining you aren’t entirely valid. That’s why, if you’ve been denied for a mortgage, you’ll want to keep trying to get mortgage funds. Here are three factors that can influence the likelihood of approval on the second try.

A Second Appraisal Might Change Your Circumstances

Sometimes, a mortgage lender will deny a loan because the property value of the home in question isn’t large enough to back the loan. If your mortgage lender declines you because of a poor loan-to-value ratio, getting a second appraisal could help. A lot of appraisal companies will give wildly different appraisals on the same property, with some brokers reporting valuation differences of up to $1.3 million.

Bear in mind that you cannot get two appraisals through the same lender, so if you choose to have the home appraised a second time, you’ll need to find a new lender.

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report Can Work Wonders

What’s on your credit report will have a large role in determining whether or not you get the mortgage you want. If you’ve been denied because of entries on your credit report, you’ll want to take every step possible to correct those report issues. If you’ve been more than 30 days late on a payment in the past, it will show on your credit report and affect your score – but by calling your creditor and asking them to remove the negative, you can bring your credit report back into good standing.

You’ll also want to pay off any and all past due balances as soon as possible. If you can’t pay what you owe in full, you’ll want to negotiate with your creditor to pay part of the amount. This will result in the debt showing on your credit report as “paid as agreed”, which will boost your credit score.

An Extra Down Payment May Be A Good Idea

Sometimes, a lender will decline a borrower if the borrower is asking for too much money. If you’re pursuing a mortgage worth more than 95% of the property value, you’ll probably be declined. But if you make an extra down payment, you can lower your loan amount – which may incline your lender to approve your application.

If you’ve been declined for a mortgage, don’t give up. As you can see there are steps you can take to get approved.

What Are the Advantages to Paying off Your Mortgage Early? Here Are a Few That Might Entice You

If you're looking into fixed term mortgages, you might be wondering whether there's any reason why you should take the full term to pay off the loan. In a lot of cases, paying off a mortgage before it comes due is a great decision. If you're considering paying off your mortgage early, you'll experience a variety of benefits – here are just a few of them.If you’re looking into fixed term mortgages, you might be wondering whether there’s any reason why you should take the full term to pay off the loan. In a lot of cases, paying off a mortgage before it comes due is a great decision. If you’re considering paying off your mortgage early, you’ll experience a variety of benefits – here are just a few of them.

You’ll Save Thousands In Interest Payments

By and large, the single biggest advantage of paying off a mortgage early is the money you’ll save in interest. The longer you take to pay off your mortgage, the more you’ll pay in interest overall. In fact, on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll pay as much in interest as you do in principal over the course of the loan – but if you pay off a $300,000 mortgage five years early, you’ll save $60,000 in interest charges, assuming an interest rate of 5.5 percent.

You’ll Greatly Improve Your Credit Score

A mortgage is quite a sizeable debt, and the longer it takes you to pay off your mortgage, the longer it’ll weigh down your credit score. Paying off your mortgage early will boost your credit score quite substantially, which means you’ll be able to take out loans to buy an investment property and start earning income on a second home. And with your first mortgage paid off, you’ll have a significant amount of new money coming in.

You’ll Free Up Your Cash Flow

Once you’ve paid off your mortgage, you’ll free up a great deal of monthly income – which you can invest into mutual funds, a savings account, trips around the world, or a college fund for your children. With so much extra cash available every month, you’ll be able to save, invest, and spend more freely – and that means you’ll meet your financial objectives sooner.

Paying off a mortgage earlier than expected may seem like a daunting challenge, but with discipline and a solid plan in place, it’s very possible. And best of all, paying your mortgage off early offers a number of great advantages that extend beyond just the financial. It’ll offer a variety of lifestyle advantages and give you a great deal of financial freedom.

Want to learn more about how the mortgage process works, or discover great new strategies for paying off your mortgage sooner? Contact your local mortgage professional today to schedule a consultation.

How to Use a Mortgage Calculator to Determine Your Monthly Payments, Interest and More

How to Use a Mortgage Calculator to Determine Your Monthly Payments, Interest and MoreAre you thinking about using a mortgage to buy a new home? Buying your own piece of local real estate is a major financial investment and one that can require some pretty complex math to fully understand.

In this blog post we’ll discuss mortgage calculators and how to use one of these tools to determine your monthly mortgage payments, interest charges, amortization periods and more.

Determining Your Principal and Down Payment Amounts

To get started with a mortgage calculator you’ll need to know how the price of the home and how much you intend to contribute as a down payment. Generally speaking you’ll want to place a down payment of at least 20 percent in order to avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance and to give you access to better interest rates.

Choosing Your Interest Rate and Amortization Period

Now that you have an idea of the amount of mortgage financing you’ll need, the next step is to choose your interest rate and amortization period. Different lenders will offer different interest rates for every one of their mortgage products, so again you’ll want to play around with these numbers and run the calculation to see which combination of mortgage financing, interest rate and amortization period gives you a monthly payment that suits your budget.

Using a Mortgage Calculator for Refinancing

If you’re thinking about refinancing your current mortgage you can also use a mortgage calculator to help make the math a bit easier. Simply use your outstanding mortgage balance as the principal amount and then choose an amortization schedule that fits your financial goals. Be sure to keep an eye on your interest payments, as you may find that by refinancing to a longer amortization period your monthly payments go down but your total interest paid is quite a bit higher.

Don’t Forget the Closing Costs

Finally, don’t forget that there are numerous “closing costs” – fees, taxes and more – which you’ll need to factor in to your overall calculation. Closing costs will include everything from home appraisal fees to government filing fees and property taxes, and will vary depending on the home and the city or community you’re buying in.

While online mortgage calculators can handle the tricky math to determine monthly payments and interest costs you may still find that you have questions about your mortgage or some aspect of the process. For more information, contact your local mortgage professional and they’ll be happy to share their advice and expertise.

Trying to Save on Your Closing Costs? Here Are Three Tips That Can Help Lower Them

Trying to Save on Your Closing Costs? Here Are Three Tips That Can Help Lower ThemWhether you’re about to close on a lovely new house for your growing family or a stylish beachfront condo so you can retire close to the ocean, one thing is certain: you’re going to face a variety of closing costs. Insurance, taxes, financing fees, title fees, attorney fees and other costs will need to be paid, and if you’re a savvy buyer you’ll do everything you can to save on them.

In today’s post we’ll share three quick tips that can help you reduce your closing costs when you buy your next home.

Tip #1: Include Closing Costs in Your Negotiations with the Seller

As closing costs are a part of the real estate transaction they’re an excellent item to include in your negotiations with the seller.

For example, if you consider that closing costs might be 3 or 4 percent of the home’s value you can try to bring the seller’s asking price down to get those costs included. Or, you may be able to entice the seller with the prospect of a quick sale if they are willing to pay your closing costs in order to get you to sign on the dotted line.

Tip #2: 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.

Tip #3: Ask About Every Fee You’re Required to Pay

Finally don’t forget that you’re the customer and that you have the right to know about each one of your closing costs and why you’re expected to pay them. Being informed about all of the various items in your transaction will help ensure that you’re not paying something you could have avoided.

There you have it – three excellent tips for reducing your closing costs when you purchase your next home. For more information and advice about mortgage closing costs and how to best manage them, be sure to get in touch with your local mortgage professional.

Recent College Grad? Learn How to Successfully Juggle Student Loans and a New Mortgage

Recent College Grad? Learn How to Successfully Juggle Student Loans and a New MortgageIf you recently graduated from college and are about to become a homeowner, you’re in a somewhat unique position. You’re about to embark on a great journey, but at the same time, you’re also taking on an awful lot of debt. That said, it is possible to successfully manage a high debt load if you’re careful.

So how can you make sure you can pay your mortgage, your student loans, and your mortgage expenses – all without losing your mind? Here’s what you need to know.

Make Sure You Have An Emergency Fund

Managing a high debt load isn’t necessarily a challenge if you have a consistent income stream. But if interest rates rise on your floating mortgage, if your portfolio doesn’t do as well as expected, or if you lose your job, you may find yourself unable to pay your expenses without dipping into your savings. That’s why you’ll want to establish an emergency fund – a spare supply of cash you can live on for 6 months or longer, if necessary.

Extra Cash At The End Of The Month? Attack High-Interest Debt

Mortgage rates are still at a historical low right now, which makes now a great time to become a homeowner – but if you’re going to carry a mortgage and student loans, you’ll need to be smart about how you repay your debts. High interest rates can quickly add up and eventually crush you, which is why your debt with the highest interest rate should be your primary priority. This is most likely your student loan – so if you have some extra money left over at the end of every month, put it toward your student loan first.

Never Roll Student Loans Into A Mortgage

Some young people seem to think that getting a mortgage is the answer to student debt. By rolling your student loans into a mortgage, you can worry about just one monthly payment instead of two. The problem with this thinking, though, is that your student loan is probably the size of the principal on a mortgage – and you’ll have to stretch your loan term out farther in order to afford the monthly payments.

This means that you’ll pay more money in interest over the long term. Your mortgage loan is also a loan with more severe consequences for missing a payment. If you miss a mortgage payment, you can get evicted from your home – but if you miss a student loan payment, they’ll just take your tax return.

Paying off a student loan and a mortgage at the same time is a daunting task, but it is possible. Talk to a mortgage professional near you for more repayment strategies that work.

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life Easier

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life EasierIf you’ve been in your home for a while and have considered other loan options, you may have heard the term reverse mortgage without being aware of how this product can benefit you. While this type of mortgage works for those who have a high amount of equity in their home, here are the details on reverse mortgages and how this product may work for you.

What’s A Reverse Mortgage?

The reverse mortgage was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) and is something that can be used by those who are older than 62. As this type of mortgage does not require the homeowner to pay monthly mortgage payments, it enables those who use it to repay their loan after they move out or pass on. If the cost of maintaining your home is manageable and you don’t plan on moving, this can be a useful option.

The Requirements For Reverse Mortgages

Beyond the age requirement, those who want to utilize this product need to own their current property or have a high amount of equity in it. They must have the ability to pay any insurance and property tax on the home, and they must comply with the standards that are set by the Federal House Administration (FHA). This means that applicants may require documentation like bank statements to confirm their financial security, or even pay stubs if they are still receiving a monthly income.

The Pros And Cons

A reverse mortgage can be an option for those who don’t want to make a regular monthly payment on their home and would like to turn it into a source of additional funds while still owning it. While this can be an option to for those who want to stabilize their monthly expenditures, it’s also important to be aware that there can be higher costs associated with a reverse mortgage. In addition to a higher interest rate, reverse mortgages incur a higher overall interest payment since monthly payments are deferred until the loan is paid in full.

There are many types of mortgage products out there on the market, but you may not be aware that a reverse mortgage or the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) can be a useful option for many seniors. If you are wondering if this option is right for you, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.