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Buying a New Home in a Hot Real Estate Market? Here Are 4 Tips You Will Need to Be Successful

Buying a New Home in a Hot Real Estate Market? Here Are 4 Tips You Will Need to Be SuccessfulAre you in the market for a new house? In a buyer’s market, finding and closing on a beautiful home can seem very easy. However, if you are shopping when the market is hot, you may end up fighting bidding wars and losing your dream home to a competing buyer. Let’s take a look at four tips that you will need to be successful when house hunting in a hot local real estate market.

Tip #1: Do Your Research Ahead Of Time

It should go without saying that in a hot market you will need to move quickly. Making an effort to do all your research ahead of time will ensure that you do not have to later, once you’ve found the perfect dream home. Check in with your real estate agent to find out what paperwork and other material will be needed.

Tip #2: Get A Mortgage Pre-approval

Once you have found your dream home, you may discover that other buyers are interested or have submitted bids. In this case, it is crucial that you can demonstrate that you have your mortgage financing pre-approved. Remember that the seller wants to close their sale quickly and for the best price. Showing up with pre-approved mortgage financing proves that you are serious about buying their home.

Tip #3: Be Ready To Pounce (But Don’t Be Hasty!)

Speaking of being serious, it is essential that you are ready to pounce on the right listing. A hot market means that you won’t be the only potential buyer checking out a home. The last thing you want to do is find the right house, then end up losing the chance to buy it because of unnecessary delays.

Tip #4: Small Sacrifices Are Okay

The final tip to keep in mind is that sometimes you will have to make a small sacrifice to close the deal. For example, the seller may want some special terms added to the agreement. Alternatively, they might ask you to pick up some of the closing costs. Whatever the case, keep in mind that a hot market means that you lose a bit of leverage. If it’s a small sacrifice, it might be worth it.

Buying a house in a hot real estate market can be challenging, but a little preparation will go a long way in ensuring you are the winning bidder. When you are ready to buy your next home, get in touch with our professional team of mortgage experts. We are happy to help you find the right mortgage for your goals and financial situation.

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement Project

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement ProjectHave you been scratching your head, wondering what your next great home renovation project should be? If you are like most homeowners, you have many areas that could use a little attention. Let’s explore three reasons why installing solar panels should be high on your list of home improvement projects for 2018.

The ROI On Solar Is Getting Better

It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending money to save money, but with solar panels, that’s precisely what you are doing. Solar is an up-front investment that returns money to your bank account over time. As you are generating your own electricity, you will spend less on utilities each month. Depending on your setup, you may even be able to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, lowering your monthly bills even further.

Don’t think about solar panels and installation as sunk costs that will never be recovered. Instead, work with your solar installer to determine what your return-on-investment should be.

Solar Drives Property Values Higher

As you might expect, installing solar panels can also increase the value of your home. Many potential home buyers are searching for modern, efficient, climate-friendly homes that allow for a bit of energy independence. If your home already has these features, it is likely to be more compelling than other houses on the street without them. If you are thinking of selling your home in the future, installing solar is a great way to increase its value.

Protecting Your Local Environment And Community

Finally, let’s not forget that investing in renewable energy means protecting the health of your local community. Every solar panel installation that goes up means one less home relying on power produced by other means. It might not seem like much, but over time a single home’s worth of solar panels can prevent a significant amount of emissions from reaching the sky. You can even take things one step further and invest in an electric car which can be connected to and charged by your solar panels.

These are a few of the many good reasons to consider an investment in solar panels in 2018. If you are interested in going solar, but can’t with your current home, contact us today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals are happy to share some financing options for home listings that are ready for solar.

3 Completely False Myths About Reverse Mortgages That Need to Be Debunked

3 Completely False Myths About Reverse Mortgages That Need to Be DebunkedAre you a senior or retired individual older than 62 who is looking to supplement their retirement income? If so, you may have heard about a unique financial product known as a reverse mortgage. In today’s blog post we will explore three myths about reverse mortgages and share why they need to be debunked. Let’s get started.

Myth #1: Reverse Mortgages Are Expensive

The first myth we will debunk is that reverse mortgages are costly financial products that are full of fees. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that there are closing costs attached to a reverse mortgage, just like with a traditional mortgage. These costs will vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the terms of the reverse mortgage, your financial history, your home’s location, size, assessed value and more.

If you are interested in a reverse mortgage, don’t let the potential fees or closing costs scare you off.

Myth #2: Children Inherit The Reverse Mortgage Payments

Many people believe that they are saddling their children with a mortgage payment when they take out a reverse mortgage, but this isn’t true. After you (and your spouse, if you have one) move on, whoever is overseeing your estate will have the option to sell your home and use the proceeds to pay off the balance of the reverse mortgage. Alternatively, they may decide to use cash to pay off the balance and keep the home. But your children aren’t going to inherit a monthly repayment.

Keep in mind that having a plan for your estate and a proper will is important, regardless of whether or not you have a reverse mortgage. Be sure to contact an attorney who is skilled in estate law for more information.

Myth #3: The Bank Ends Up Owning Your House

Finally, some believe that the bank will end up owning your home if you take out a reverse mortgage. This isn’t true either. With a reverse mortgage, you are borrowing money against the equity or value that you have built up in your home. You will continue to own the house, but the lender may place a lien against it to secure the mortgage loan.

These are just a few of the many myths about reverse mortgages that you might hear about or read online. When you are ready to learn more about this type of mortgage, get in touch. Our team of mortgage professionals is here and ready to assist you.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 2, 2018

Last week’s economic readings included Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, pending home sales and consumer confidence. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

CaseShiller: Home Prices Continue Growth

Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports indicated incremental growth in October with home prices growing month-to-month 0.70 percent for the S&P Case-Shiller 30-City Home Price Index. The 20-city index posted 6.20 percent gains year-over-year. Western cities continued to post the largest gains; Seattle, Washington led with a year-over-year growth of 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, NV and San Diego, California rounded out the top three with year-over-year home price growth of 10.20 percent and 8.10 percent.

Pending Home Sales Subject to Slim Inventory of Available Homes

Homes under purchase contract rose by 0.20 percent in November as compared to an increase in pending sales of 3.50 percent in October. Analysts expected pending sales to rise by 0.50 percent in November. Extremely low inventories of available homes continued to dampen home purchases in November. The National Association of Realtors® said there was a 3.40 months’ supply of homes for sale as compared to an average reading of a six months supply.

Small inventories of homes for sale constrict sales by driving up prices, increasing buyer competition and challenging buyers to find homes they want buy among limited choices.  Pending sales varied by region with the Northeast posting a 4.10 percent increase in pending sales; the Midwest posted an increase of 0.40 percent in pending sales The South posted a decline in pending sales of -0.40 percent. The West posted a decrease of 1.80 percent, which could indicate that rapidly rising prices in Western markets are topping out. Analysts said that the disparity between pending home sales and completed sales of pre-owned homes made it difficult to accurately assess the future housing market trends.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Confidence Highest in 17 Years

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged five basis points higher at 3.99 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 3.44 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was eight basis points higher at 3.47 percent. Discount points were unchanged on average at 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Analysts had forecast a hike in mortgage rates after the Fed raised its target federal funds rate.

Consumer confidence rose to its highest rate in 17 years in November. December’s month-to-month index reading was 122.10 as compared to an expected reading of 127.5 and November’s reading of 128.6.  Although confidence dipped in December, analysts said that consumers are confident about jobs and the economy.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include releases on construction spending, ADP and Non-farm payrolls and the National unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes — Here’s How

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes -- Here's HowHave you been hunting for a new house without finding one that suits your needs? If so, one option that you may want to consider is building a new construction home on a choice piece of land. In today’s blog post we will explore a few different mortgage options for those who are looking to build a brand-new home.

Qualifying For A Construction Mortgage

As with any mortgage product, the first step you will want to take is to begin the qualification process. As your lender does not have a completed house to use as collateral for your loan, qualifying can take a bit longer than usual. Your mortgage lender will gather information about the home you plan to build, including its size, features and who is contracted to build it. The more information you can provide during the qualification process, the better. You might find it helpful to have your builder or general contractor involved as they will have many of the answers needed.

Construction-to-Permanent Mortgages

One type of new construction mortgage is known as a ‘construction-to-permanent’ loan. With this kind of mortgage, you only go through the closing process once. In many cases, while your home is being built you are only responsible for paying off the mortgage interest each month. Once your home is finished, your lender will convert this mortgage into a standard mortgage like any other. You can choose from a variety of amortization periods, interest rates and more.

Standalone Construction Loans

A standalone new construction loan is a bit different. With this product, you borrow money to finance the construction of your home and then again as a permanent mortgage once the home is completed. These loan and mortgage combinations require you to go through the closing process twice and thus your fees may be a bit higher. However, if you are currently living in a home and won’t have much cash until it is sold, this might be the right product for you.

As you can see, qualifying for a mortgage to build a new home on a piece of land is a bit different than a typical mortgage. To learn more about construction mortgages or to start the application process, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share our expertise.

Buying a Rental Property? These 4 Key Tips Will Ensure You Buy One That Turns a Profit

Buying a Rental Property? These 4 Key Tips Will Ensure You Buy One That Turns a ProfitAre you starting to grow bored of watching your money go nowhere sitting in a bank account? With today’s interest rates doing little to encourage saving, many individuals are looking elsewhere for new investment opportunities. In today’s blog post we’ll share four essential tips for buying a profitable rental property. Let’s get started.

Buy A Property With Year-Round Potential

Many real estate investors agree that the best rental properties are those that generate income every day of the year. The most straightforward situation to manage is one where you have stable, long-term tenants in place that aren’t going to move or change often. Browse local property listings around schools, colleges, and large employers to see if there are any suitable homes for sale.

Once you gain experience and invest in other properties, consider branching out into vacation or short-term stay homes. But to get started, aim for stability.

Predict Your Income And Expenses

Next, you will want to craft a budget. Have a look through rental listings in your target communities to see what renters are currently paying. This will give you some idea of your potential rental income for a similar-sized home. You can then compare this to your estimated monthly mortgage payment, taxes, utility costs, and repairs. It is impossible to predict precisely how much you will need, but this exercise can quickly prove whether this area is likely to be profitable.

Treat Your Rental Properties Like A Business

Since you have already taken the first steps with a budget, you might as well continue down the path to a full business structure. Most real estate investors set their portfolio up in an incorporated or limited-liability company, which reduces personal exposure. It can also be an efficient way to manage any legal issues that arise as your investments grow. Also, there will be significant tax advantages, including being able to write-off expenses such as repairs, contractor work, and renovations.

Work With Experienced Professionals

Speaking of contractors, it’s worth reminding to only work with experienced professionals who are licensed, certified and have references. Paying for quality work up-front ensures that you won’t have to deal with hefty repair bills due to shoddy workmanship.

When you are ready to invest in rental properties, give us a call. Our professional mortgage team is happy to financing options that are perfect for investment and rental properties.

3 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect for the Allergy-Prone Pet Lover

3 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect for the Allergy-Prone Pet LoverDo you find yourself itchy and sneezing after an encounter with a friendly, furry dog? You are not alone. The CDC estimates that around ten percent of Americans suffer from allergies related to dogs or cats. But, of course, that is no reason not to enjoy the love of a dog. So, if you are ready to push your suffering aside and adopt a furry pal, below are a few breeds that are perfect for those prone to allergies.

What Causes Dog-Related Allergies?

Do you know what the primary causes of pet-related allergies are? Many people believe that reactions are triggered by hair that has been shed, but this isn’t entirely accurate. Shed hair carries flakes of dead skin known as dander, and it is this dander which causes most typical dog-related allergic reactions.

In an allergy-prone individual, this dander is treated as a harmful invading virus or bacteria. The body issues an immune response with symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, hives and coughing which can be treated with antihistamines.

Note that it is not just a dog’s dander that can cause a reaction. Dog saliva and urine are also known to carry the proteins that can trigger allergic reactions.

3 Breeds Perfect For Allergy Sufferers

The Poodle – if you are the energetic type that likes to get out and walk, a Poodle might be the right fit. Poodles are recognized as a cleaner dog as they do not shed much fur. They love to get outside and can be trained easily.

The Schnauzer – if you are more of an introvert or have a quiet side, you might find a Schnauzer to be a better companion. These are smaller dogs that aren’t going to beg you to run around for a few miles each day.

The Bichon Frise – this breed is an excellent choice for first-time dog owners and those who prefer smaller dogs. Bichon Frise are happy, friendly dogs that are very sociable. They are not incredibly high maintenance, but they do need daily grooming.

Renting A Home That Doesn’t Allow Pets?

If you are thinking about how great it would be to have a dog but can’t get one due to your current rental situation, contact us today. Our friendly mortgage professionals are happy to introduce financing options for a pet loving home.

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes — Here’s How

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes -- Here's HowHave you been hunting for a new house without finding one that suits your needs? If so, one option that you may want to consider is building a new construction home on a choice piece of land. In today’s blog post we will explore a few different mortgage options for those who are looking to build a brand-new home.

Qualifying For A Construction Mortgage

As with any mortgage product, the first step you will want to take is to begin the qualification process. As your lender does not have a completed house to use as collateral for your loan, qualifying can take a bit longer than usual. Your mortgage lender will gather information about the home you plan to build, including its size, features and who is contracted to build it. The more information you can provide during the qualification process, the better. You might find it helpful to have your builder or general contractor involved as they will have many of the answers needed.

Construction-to-Permanent Mortgages

One type of new construction mortgage is known as a ‘construction-to-permanent’ loan. With this kind of mortgage, you only go through the closing process once. In many cases, while your home is being built you are only responsible for paying off the mortgage interest each month. Once your home is finished, your lender will convert this mortgage into a standard mortgage like any other. You can choose from a variety of amortization periods, interest rates and more.

Standalone Construction Loans

A standalone new construction loan is a bit different. With this product, you borrow money to finance the construction of your home and then again as a permanent mortgage once the home is completed. These loan and mortgage combinations require you to go through the closing process twice and thus your fees may be a bit higher. However, if you are currently living in a home and won’t have much cash until it is sold, this might be the right product for you.

As you can see, qualifying for a mortgage to build a new home on a piece of land is a bit different than a typical mortgage. To learn more about construction mortgages or to start the application process, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share our expertise.

Landlord Squeezing You for yet Another Rent Increase? It’s Time to Buy a Starter Home

Landlord Squeezing You for yet Another Rent Increase? It's Time to Buy a Starter HomeDid you recently receive your annual notice that the rent is going up? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of renters are seeing more and more of their income drained away due to higher rents. To make matters worse, every dollar in rent is one that you are not saving, investing or using to build your net worth. If you’re feeling the pinch of higher rents, it might be time to buy your first starter home.

Comparing Rent With A Mortgage

Have you ever done the math to understand how close your monthly rent might be to a mortgage payment? Here’s a quick and easy exercise. Multiply your monthly rent by twelve, and then multiply that number by 25. For example, if your rent is $1000 per month, that is $12,000 per year and $300,000 over 25 years. So if nothing changed from today, you could afford a $300,000 mortgage.

Homes Are More Affordable Than You Think

Many first-time home buyers are convinced that they can’t afford to enter the market, but that is not the case. There are homes available that fit almost every budget or price range. In fact, it is less important to worry about the total cost and more important to worry about location, size and local amenities like schools and parks.

Remember, when you buy a house you aren’t just locking yourself into a rental contract. You are investing in a home and property have the potential to gain in value over time.

A Few Other Considerations

Of course, there are some considerations that you will need to make as you start down the path to homeownership. The first is that your mortgage is unlikely to be your only monthly expense. You will also encounter property and other taxes, utility fees and if you buy a condominium or apartment, homeowners’ association fees. You will also be responsible for maintenance and upkeep since you own the home. But that also means that you are free to customize and renovate as you see fit.

Keep in mind that it is never too late to escape the rental trap. When you’re ready to start building your future by investing in your first home, contact us. Our experienced mortgage team is happy to share financing options that will suit your budget.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 26, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on NAHB homebuilder confidence, housing starts, building permits issued and sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Builder Confidence Rises, Housing Starts Increase

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for December, builder confidence in housing market conditions rose by four points to 74. This reading was the highest since 1999. Builder confidence increased based on strong labor markets, demand for homes and potential tax breaks resulting from proposed tax code revisions.

Housing and real estate industries continued to cite an imbalance caused by high demand for homes and few available homes for sale. Increasing production of new single-family homes is the only way to ease the discrepancy between supply and demand. Reducing demand for homes would also slow the pace of home price growth, which impacted the ability of first-time and moderate-income home buyers to purchase homes.

Commerce Department readings indicate that builder confidence aligned with housing starts in November. 1.297 million housing starts were reported as compared to expectations of 1,250 housing starts based on October’s revised reading of 1.256 million starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Housing starts were 3.30 percent higher month-to-month and 12.90 percent higher year-over-year. Single-family starts were 5.30 percent higher for November. Analysts said that this indicated builder confidence in single-family home building increased.

Building permits issued in November were lower than in October, but home construction slows in the winter months. 1,298 million building permits were issued in November as compared to 1.316 million permits issued in October.

Demand Pushes PreExisting Home Sales in November

Sales of Previously-owned Homes rose to 5.81 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 5.50 million sales of previously-owned homes. Pre-owned homes sales were 5.60 percent month-to-month and 3.80 percent higher year-over-year.

The National Association of Realtors® reported increased sales of pre-owned homes in all regions except the West, where high home prices may be topping out. The Northeast reported 6.70 percent growth in sales; the Midwestern region had the highest rate of sales with growth of 8.40 percent and the South reported 8.30 percent growth in sales of previously-owned homes. The West reported a drop of -2.30 percent in sales of pre-owned homes.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point higher at 3.94 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate rose two basis points to 3.38 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.39 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate loans and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were higher last week with 245,000 new claims filed as compared to last week; reading of 225,000 new jobless claims and expectations of 230,000 new claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic releases include the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, pending home sales and consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released.