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Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage PaymentsIt’s not uncommon for a homeowner to want to pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment on their home. However, just because it can seem hard to come up with the funds on a monthly basis doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you’re wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

Relinquish Your Refund

Many people look forward to tax time because it’s an opportunity to spend their refund on shopping, dining or a much-needed vacation. However, using your tax refund to pay down your debt can actually be a satisfying way to put more down on your mortgage and achieve something lasting from that extra bit of cash. While you may want to set some aside for an outing or a special treat, the amount remaining on your mortgage will seriously benefit from the extra payment.

Re-Tool Your Budget

If you’ve been successful at making your mortgage payments, it’s likely that you have a working budget that you stick to each month. But like any plan, a budget can change. If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s worth sitting down to re-calculate your monthly income and expenses. There’s a good chance that some expenses exist that you can pare down or get rid of entirely. While it may not make a significant difference in one month, small amounts will add up over time.

Plan A Yard Sale

It’s easy to acquire a lot of things that you don’t necessarily use, whether it’s technology or kitchenware or home decorations. Fortunately, planning a yard sale for your infrequently used items can be a great way to come up with a small fortune to pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, you’ll need to be ready to haggle to get the prices you’re looking for. And don’t forget to get the locals involved and make it a neighborhood event for even more selling success.

It may seem nearly impossible to come up with the money to put more down on your mortgage, but using your tax refund and re-tooling your budget can easily add up to savings that make a difference! If you’re considering buying a new home in the future, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Understanding Your FICO Score and Why Small Credit Mistakes Can Cause Huge Headaches

Understanding Your FICO Score and Why Small Credit Mistakes Can Cause Huge HeadachesMany people all over the world are dealing with issues involving debt or poor credit history, but most aren’t necessarily aware of what exactly makes up their credit score. Unfortunately, it might seem like it’s the big stuff that counts when it comes to credit, but little things can have a significant impact on your financial health. If you’re looking to improve your understanding and your finances, here’s what you need to know about small mistakes and your FICO score.

Making Late Payments

The due date on your bills might seem like an advisory, but whether we’re talking about a student loan, a credit card payment or your telephone bill, late payments can add up. Your payment history constitutes 35% of your total FICO score, which means that even a couple of late payments can have a marked impact on your overall credit. Instead of leaving this to chance, set aside a day each month before your bills are due to ensure they’re all paid off.

Applying For New Credit

It’s often the case that a store will offer special deals if you sign up for their own in-house credit card, but this can cost you big since the amounts you owe make up 30% of your credit score. Also, because lenders will often assume that you’ve run out of credit if you apply for a new card, applying for new credit can be a red mark against your FICO score. 

Forgetting Credit Altogether

It might seem like the best possible option for avoiding credit issues is to avoid using credit altogether, but your credit history constitutes 15% of your FICO score. This means that you should have at least one credit card in your possession so that you can use it to build a history of lending success. While you won’t want to use more than 30% of your credit limit, it’s important to show proven experience in paying back your lenders.

Many people think that bad credit is the result of overspending and huge debt amounts, but your FICO score is largely determined by your payment history and your available credit. If you’re trying to buy a home in the near future, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 7, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on pending home sales, construction spending. Several reports related to employment were also posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Pending Home Sales Rise as Construction Spending Lags

Pending home sales rose by 1.50 percent to an index reading of 110.2 in June according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of homes under contract that have not yet closed regained positive territory after May’s negative reading of -0.70 percent. Pending sales were in negative territory for the past three months.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast posted a gain of 0.70 percent, which was 3.40 percent higher than in June 2016. The Midwest region lost ground with a reading of -0.50 percent in June, but pending sales were 3.40 percent higher year-over-year. Pending home sales increased by 2.10 percent in the Southern region, which was 2.60 percent higher year-over-year. Although the Western region posted a month-to-month pending home sales gain of 2.90 percent for June, pending home sales were 1.10 percent lower year-over-year.

The west has enjoyed a run on rapid home price growth due to slim supplies of homes for sale and high demand for homes in popular metro areas. June’s lower year-over-year reading could signal that home prices have maxed out and low inventory of homes isn’t providing potential buyers with enough choices given higher home prices.

Construction Spending Slows, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Real estate pros again cited the shortage of available homes as driving high home prices and creating high competition for homes on the market. These conditions can make homeownership difficult for first-time and moderate- income buyers. Despite pressure on home builders to increase construction, the Commerce Department reported lower construction spending in June. Spending was lower by -1.10 percent against expectations of 0.40 percent growth based on May’s flat reading.

Mortgage rates were little changed last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were three basis points lower at 3.15 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

Weekly Jobless Claims, Unemployment Rate Fall

New jobless claims fell to 20,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 244,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 245,000 initial jobless claims filed. Readings for Non-Farm Payrolls were lower at 209,000 private and public-sector jobs created.in July. Analysts expected 175,0000 new jobs based on June’s reading of 231,000 jobs. ADP Payrolls reported 178,000 private sector jobs created in July as compared to June’s reading of 191,000 new jobs created.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.30 percent as expected and was lower than June’s reading of 4.40 percent. Lower unemployment readings suggest that fewer people are seeking full-time work.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, inflation and core inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

3 Ugly Truths You’ll Discover Trying to Buy a Home Without a Real Estate Agent

3 Ugly Truths You'll Discover Trying to Buy a Home Without a Real Estate AgentMany people, whether they are new to the market or have purchased a home before, consider investing in a home without the help of an agent. While there are benefits involved with going it alone, there are also a number of drawbacks that can significantly impact the success of your home purchase. If you’re wondering about the difficulties involved in going “agent-less”, consider the following points.

It’s A Lot Of Legwork

It might seem simple if you’ve found a house and you like it, but a lot more goes into investing in a home than just finding a place. While you can do research on your own, an experienced real estate agent will have knowledge of the market and the neighborhoods you’re searching in and will be able to share an insider’s perspective. As a result, they may be more successful at providing you with insights about the local community and the price you should be paying. All of which would be hard to determine on your own.

Navigating The Process

Home ownership can be considered as easy as signing on the dotted line, but there are so many steps that go into making the final purchase that having someone experienced along to assist can be very beneficial. In addition to pay stubs, tax returns, employment records and bank statements, you’ll need to deal with legal forms, deeds and a ton of other information the home sellers and your lender will need. Fortunately, an agent will be familiar with what’s needed and will be able to simplify the process wherever possible.

The Right Home Takes Time

The right agent may make finding a home look pretty easy, but it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to find what works for you. As a result, it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of time you’ll need to invest in research and open houses and even negotiating to find your next home. If you don’t have the time to do what’s needed to find the right place for you, it may be worth enlisting the services of a professional.

It can be tempting to forego the costs of an agent when it comes to buying a home, but the right agent can save you time and help you find the right place at the right price. If you’re currently preparing to invest in a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Dive In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the Time

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Lock In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the TimeWhether you’ve just finished school or are about to start a family, investing in a home can be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. But as you’ll soon discover, there are a number of considerations you’ll need to make. It can be difficult to know whether to get a short-term or long-term mortgage, or how long of an amortization period you’ll need. Read on below for three questions that will help you to make your decision, as now is the best time to dive into the market.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

There are a lot of numbers mentioned when it comes to the down payment, from 5% to cash only offers, but 20% is the ideal percentage to put down when it comes to buying a home. Because putting 20% down will enable you to avoid having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), you’ll be able to lower your costs of home ownership over time. While 20% isn’t the be-all-end-all if you’re really ready to hit the market, it’s worth re-tooling your budget to save up.

Will You Struggle To Make Ends Meet?

Lower mortgage rates can certainly improve your overall outlook for investing in a home, but buying a home can be financially debilitating for many people. While you’ll be required to make your monthly mortgage payment, there will also be insurance costs, property taxes, home maintenance and other associated fees that add up. If you feel it’s going to be a huge financial risk to sustain home ownership, it may be worth sitting down with a mortgage professional to go over the numbers.

Are You Ready For Ownership?

Home ownership is often considered a rite of passage as one gets older, but it’s important to determine how a new home will fit into your current lifestyle. The costs of home ownership are usually higher than renting and you’ll have to take care of things like the yard and general home maintenance yourself. It might not be the best time if a home strongly imposes on your lifestyle, but if you’re looking forward to domestic duties, it can be a step in the right direction.

Mortgage rates have been hovering relatively low for a few years, but it’s important to know that home ownership is right for you before moving forward. If you’re currently contemplating a home in your area, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

The Five Most Common Overlooked Expenses When Selling a House

The Five Most Common Overlooked Expenses When Selling a HouseMost homeowners are so enthusiastic about putting their home on the market and getting the price they’re hoping for that the expenses involved in selling a home are forgotten. However, it’s often said that one has to spend money to make money, and selling a home is no exception! If you’re wondering what kinds of overlooked expenses will cut into your home sale, here are some costs to consider.

Minor Renovations

There are always a few things to fix-up when it comes time to sell your home, but by establishing what will best increase your home’s value, you can make it a good investment. Instead of going it blind, create a renovation budget so any cost you incur will pay for itself.

Staging Your Home

It’s possible you may be able to get away with minimal costs when it comes to home staging, but adding a few small details can improve the overall impression of your home. Instead of spending an abundance on dressing up your home, put your time into cleaning and de-cluttering for ample effect.

Closing Costs

It goes without saying that closing costs can add up to a lot of money at the end of the day, but many people forget they’re part of the transaction. Closing costs can include anything from transfer tax to title insurance to escrow fees so it may be worth talking to your agent to see if they can give you a deal.

Real Estate Commission

It’s easy to forget, but using a real estate agent to sell your home will require you to pay a portion of your home’s sale to them. While you may be able to negotiate this percentage with your agent, it’s worth realizing that an agent will help you garner a higher price and will do a lot of the leg work for you.

The Moving Van

It might be too soon to think about, but if you have a lot of stuff and don’t want to take on the task yourself, you’ll need to hire a moving company to help you relocate. Instead of leaving this to the last minute, contact a few popular movers to get pricing, and don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your move. If you’re desperate, you’re likely to pay more.

Selling a home can be a financial boon, but there are many expenses that can come along with it. If you’re currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community GardenAh, the city. With so many people living in an urban landscape these days, it can be hard to find anything more than a planter on the balcony for your herbs. And good luck finding space for vegetables or large flowering plants! Fortunately, coming up with a community garden can be a great way to get the locals together. If you’re wondering how to get started with this fun project, begin with the following guide.

Find The Right People

Organizing your own community garden can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s important to gather a group of like-minded people that are interested in the idea and have the same passion for it that you do. Whether you decide to use a site like Meetup to get a group together or you have a variety of friends and neighbors who might be interested, ensure your group has both gardening and planning skills to bring to the table.

Research The Local Community

You’ll want to choose a site that’s not too far from your home, so talk to local horticultural organizations and your city or community center for information on available areas of land. Once you know the details, it will be easier to determine what exactly you’ll need to do to fund and develop the area. You might decide to cover the startup costs on your own, or you may want to create a small society which can be sponsored by local businesses. There may even be loan programs in your area that are available for your project, so ask around.

Start The Planting Process

Once you’ve determined who your crew will be and where you’ll be creating your garden, it will be much easier to move forward and determine what exactly your garden will be. Do you want it to be a collective which you all share together? Or do you want separate plots so all your members can do whatever they like? Once you’ve decided, the launch date can be the ideal time to throw a garden party and get everyone in on the fun.

Growing vegetables and planting your own garden has become a more popular pastime in recent years, and it can be easier than you think to get your very own community garden started. If you’re looking to buy a home in a garden-friendly new community, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 31, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and existing home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports and an announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New and Existing Home Sales Mixed in June

Sales of new homes rose in June rose to a seasonally- adjusted annual rate of 610,000 homes. Analysts expected 614,000 new home sales based on May’s reading of 605,000 new home sales. The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.52 million previously owned homes sold in June on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. A reading of 5.57 million sales was expected, based on May’s reading of 5.62 million sales. Sales of pre-owned homes are lagging due to a severe shortage of homes available. Low inventory and high demand are limiting options for buyers, who are frequently forced to compete with multiple offers for homes they want and not enough listings of appropriate or affordable homes.

New home sales rose in June according to the Commerce Department. June sales of new homes increased by 5000 sales to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 610,000 new home sales. June’s reading fell short of the 614,000 sales anticipated by analysts.  While housing and real estate industries say that building more homes is the only solution to reducing the shortage of homes for sale, builders cite labor and lot shortages and increases in materials cost as headwinds to building more homes at a fast pace. June’s reading was 9.10 percent higher than a year ago.

CaseShiller: Home Prices Hold Steady in May

National home price appreciation held steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 percent in May. The 20-City Index, which reported a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. indicated that home values remain highest in the West. Seattle, Washington had the highest year-over-year home price gain of 13.30 percent. Portland Oregon followed with a year-over-year gain of 8.90 percent. Denver, Colorado reported a year-over-year gain of 7.90 percent for home prices.

The Federal Reserve announced that its target federal funds interest rate would not change; it is currently at 1.00 to 1.25 percent. The Fed also noted that it would start reducing its balance sheet soon.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage four basis points lower at 3.92 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped three basis points to 3.20 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to 245,000 new claims expected and 234,000 new claims filed the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on pending home sales, inflation, construction spending and ADP payrolls. Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released, along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100Whether you’re trying to improve the look of your home or are getting ready to put it on the market, the idea of renovations might seem like a significant financial burden to take on. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy solutions for improving the look of your home without spending a lot of money. If you’re wondering how you can spend $100 wisely, look no further than the following upgrading tips.

A Funky Light Fixture

It might seem like a cool light will cost an arm and a leg, but there are plenty of options available on the market that will instantly add a unique touch to your place. Whether you decide to go mod or classic, a fixture can draw the eye and instantly add interest to a room.

A Makeshift Curio Cabinet

In these days of smaller living, many people have to pile their stuff into closets and cabinets in order to make it all fit. Fortunately, a bookcase-cum-cabinet can be an inexpensive purchase and can house a variety of items like books, dishes and appliances for an easy, eclectic look.

Covering The Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are often one of the first things to show age in a home, but getting out the can of paint can be a great way to instantly modernize their look. While you’ll want to go with a neutral tone that will compliment the space, the right color can add instant oomph.

Re-Upholstering A Chair

There are pieces of furniture in your home that you may be tired of looking at, but there’s an easy way to improve them without buying new: re-upholster! By trying out a new fabric on one of your favorite chairs, you might be surprised by how much it improves the room.

Paint Does The Trick

Painting may be one of the least popular renovation tasks, but few things are as successful at improving the look of your home as a fresh coat of paint. Instead of going all out with a bright color, choose a neutral shade that complements the furniture for an instant brightening effect.

Home renovations may seem like an expensive endeavor, but you can easily improve the look of your home with a new light fixture or by giving your furniture some love. If you’re currently doing some upgrades in preparation for selling your home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can Recycle

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can RecycleIt has never been more popular to live a “green” lifestyle and develop sustainable living practices that will help out the planet. While you may be used to recycling cardboard boxes and giving away your old hand-me-down clothes, there are probably a few household items you didn’t even know you could recycle! If you’re wondering what to do with some of your old, used items, here are a few things that may be ready for re-use.

Re-constituting Your Lenses

It’s common to think your eyeglass prescription only works for you, but an easy way to re-use old eyeglasses is to take them to your local optician or optometrist’s office so that they can make use of them. Not only will someone in need be able to use the frames that you’ve provided, your lenses may be donated to another person with a similar prescription who will truly appreciate the gesture.

Old Phones & Electronics

It can be tempting to throw out an old phone with a shattered screen or an aging laptop that no longer turns on properly. However, with technology being obsolete almost as soon as it hits the market, it’s more important than ever to recycle these items. Old technology like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, chargers and digital cameras can be taken to your local electronics or “big box” store and recycled as part of their e-waste program. Before discarding any electronics that still work, you may want to look into other local places that refurbish these goods to donate them to less-fortunate families.

Improving Your Oil Change

While there are many renewable solutions on the market, oil is still one of the most common resources used in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of transportation. Fortunately, while an oil change may be necessary maintenance on your car now and then, you can be more environmentally friendly by going to an auto repair shop that recycles and re-refines your oil. Before you make a trip to your old auto body, take a look at motor oil recycling locations on Earth911 for some options in your area.

It’s easy enough to compost food and throw your cardboard boxes in the bin, but there are many common waste items that can actually be re-used in your local community. If you’re looking for ways to go greener as you plan a move to a new home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.