9 Strategies to Handle Home Maintenance Costs

9 Strategies to Handle Home Maintenance CostsMaintenance is an important part of home ownership. Improper care compromises the safety of your property and can result in big repair bills. Include these strategies in your maintenance plan to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Educate Yourself

It’s usually cheaper to do most home maintenance jobs yourself. Teach yourself some basic skills to save yourself from professional fees.

  • Take some classes. Community colleges and hardware stores often host community courses that help you plan projects, get familiar with new tools, or gain more value from property assessments.
  • Invest in beginner books on carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing. These will be invaluable references throughout your home ownership journey. Online versions allow searchable access to necessary information.
  • Experience is the best teacher. Start with small, decorative projects to hone your hand skills. As confidence increases, you can try more difficult builds and repairs.

The right combination of knowledge and skills means you realize minimal maintenance costs.

Make Maintenance A Routine

Preventive maintenance catches small problems before they become big, expensive ones. Schedule essential tasks to ensure all the important parts of your property are monitored consistently.

  • Perform a perimeter check when the seasons change. Walk around the outside of your home. Examine the grounds and exterior for signs of wear-and-tear or degradation. Take pictures and make a plan to address the damage.
  • Have your HVAC system professionally serviced once a year. For those with allergies or other adverse respiratory conditions, have your ducts, vents, and filters cleaned every six months.
  • Practice good property hygiene. Keep your landscaping, exterior, and storage spaces clean and uncluttered. If a problem does occur, an unkempt environment can complicate repair efforts.

Incorporate maintenance into your regular routine to circumvent emergencies.

Prepare Financially

Make sure you’ll always have enough money to fix your home with these tips.

  • Decrease the deductible on your home insurance policy. You pay slightly higher premiums. However, the extra funds could come in handy if a big claim occurs.
  • Start a home repair fund. Aim for an amount equal to 10% of the value of your property.
  • Establish a relationship with a local contractor. Your friendly relationship and loyal patronage could earn you some valuable discounts in times of need.

The cost of maintaining your home doesn’t have to be a mystery. With these tips, you can keep a safe and healthy home without draining your bank account.

If your home maintenance or improvements require a bigger budget, it may be time to inquire with your mortgage professional about financing options, like a refinance or a home equity line of credit.

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Loan Servicing Companies

Loan Servicing CompaniesWhat happens when you suddenly get a notice to pay your mortgage to a company you may have never heard of? How do you determine if this is a legitimate request or a scam?

A borrower may get a written notice or an email that their mortgage sold to another entity or that a new loan servicing company will now be collecting the mortgage payments. The borrower needs to exercise extreme caution before just sending in a payment to the new company. It is prudent to double check to see if the communication is legitimate because many people get scammed by this type of notice.

Borrowers must receive a letter in the mail from the original lender notifying them of the change before getting any communication from a new company. If there was not a letter from the original lender, it is probably a scam.

How To Verify A Legitimate Request With The Original Lender

It is important to be 100% certain that communications are with the lender. DO NOT respond to any notice received by email by clicking on any link in the email, even if the email looks legitimate.

Fraudsters on the Internet use a technique called “phishing” to trick people into thinking they are getting a request from a legitimate company when the email comes from a criminal. These emails are very convincing. They look exactly like the real company; however, they are fake.

Borrowers who want to communicate with their lender online, should type in their lender’s website address and make contact through the company’s official website. 

Better yet, call the customer service number listed on the company’s official website and talk directly to a customer service person to verify that the request is legitimate. They will ask you for identification information and then be able to tell you your loan status.

What Is Loan Servicing? Can A Lender Sell My Loan?

Companies may choose to have the collection of the loan payment done by a third-party vendor. Usually, in any loan, there is a provision that allows the lender to sell it to another party or to change loan servicing companies. These legal rights are normally in the part of the loan document called the “Mortgage Servicing Disclosure.”

This legal right is usually held only by the lender and the borrower has no option but to comply with a legitimate request. Since almost all lenders sell off their loans to other companies or investors, so that they can get more money to loan out, the chance of a new mortgage loan selling is extremely high.

Troubles With Loan Servicing

Many make a smooth transition from one loan servicing provider to a new one by simply following the instructions. Others have troubles. Besides actual fraud by fake companies, there may be problems with real companies if the information in the records is not accurate. The date of a loan transfer may cause an overpayment or a late payment.

Any time there is confusion with regard to a mortgage loan servicing transfer, it is best to be proactive and stay in touch with the original lender for guidance in connecting with the new loan servicer.

Conclusion

Lenders sell their loans all the time. Loan servicing companies change frequently as well. These can be a simple legitimate transfer of the business process from one company to another. However, this is an area that is ripe for scammers to trick people and for bad companies to take advantage of their customers through loan servicing fraud techniques. Be aware of this problem and take care to avoid any negative consequences of loan servicing fraud.

If you have any questions or concerns about your home financing, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

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5 Ways To Find Properties For Sale That Are Not Listed Yet

5 Ways To Find Properties For Sale That Are Not Listed YetReal estate agents, who are successful, know that getting listings is the life energy of their business. It is boring to sit around waiting for a new client to call. It is expensive to spend extraordinary amounts of money on general advertising to get listings. Clever real estate people learn how to find properties for sale before they are listed.

Value Of Unlisted Properties

Real estate agents and investors have a competitive advantage when they find properties for sale that are not listed. These off-market properties may be available at a better price. There may have little or no other competition from other potential buyers making an offer. Real estate agents can motivate buyers to move quickly to close a deal on an unlisted property before it goes on the market.

Finding Off-Market Properties

Here are five ways to find properties before they are listed:

1. Check Tax Records

Sometimes it is as simple as looking up the current owner in the tax records, making a contact, and giving an offer. That direct approach may work well as long as enough contacts are made to improve the odds of finding a motivated seller.

2. Maintain Contact With Past Buyers

Real estate agents should always stay in contact with past buyers of a property that they sold. On the anniversary of the sale date, send a nice postcard with a handwritten note that says something like “I remembered this was the date you bought your home (or building). If you ever want to sell it, give me a call.”

3. Networking

Another technique is in-person networking with people. Join professional associations, mingle with people, and learn what neighborhood they live in. Tell them someone is thinking of moving there and ask them if they might be considering selling their home or if they know someone who is.

4. Friendly Neighborhood Scouting

Become known in a neighborhood as a buyer. When an investor likes a neighborhood, a terrific strategy is to wander around, knock on doors, and hand out business cards.

People hate someone knocking on the door who is trying to sell them something. However, they usually have a very positive reaction when someone wants to buy the home. There is no need to be shy. Walk around a neighborhood, get to know it better, and the people who live there.

5. Title Companies And Real Estate Departments Of Banks

Make friends with the staff at title companies. Get to know the people working at banks in the real estate department that handles the short sales and foreclosures. These two groups are very strong sources for off-market deals.

The staff of title companies knows when a sale fails at the last moment due to loan funding issues. Bank staff knows when new foreclosures come in before they list for resale. By moving fast, an investor takes advantage of the short gaps between the time these properties are available for sale and when they get listed.

Summary

Learning how to find off-market properties creates many benefits. Investment opportunities expand for real estate investors and real estate agents create more listings for themselves with these proactive strategies. Think of this as a treasure hunt and it actually can be a lot of fun.

One of the best ways to be prepared to purchase a new property is to have your pre-approval in place. Be sure to meet with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your financing options.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 20th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 20th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions, housing starts and building permits issued. Consumer sentiment was reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Rises in May, Housing Starts Increase in April

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index posted its highest reading in seven months in May as headwinds facing home construction waned. Lower mortgage rates were a positive sign. May’s reading rose three points to 66; component readings also rose.

The index of builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose three points to an index reading of 72; the reading for builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months rose one point to 72 and the confidence reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose two points to 49. The reading for buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50. A reading of 50 or above indicates positive builder sentiment.

Commerce Department reports for April showed higher readings for housing starts and building permits issued. 1.235 million housing starts were reported at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace. Analysts expected 1.209 million starts based on March reading of 1.16 million starts. Housing starts were six percent higher as compared to March, but remained lower year-over-year. Building permits reported in April rose from 1.288 million permits issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in March to 1.296 million permits in April. 

Mortgage Rates, Mixed New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed mortgage rates were lower last week, but the average rate for 5/1 adjustable mortgages rose. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.07 percent and were three basis points lower. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.53 percent and were four basis points lower.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose three basis points to 3.66 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 212,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 217,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 228,000 initial claims filed. Analysts said that the drop in first-time claims was a sign of economic strength and job markets.

Consumer sentiment hit a 15-year high according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment

Index. reported an index reading of 102.40 in May; analysts expected a reading of 97.10 based on April’s reading of 97.20. Low unemployment fueled consumer sentiment, but analysts emphasized that consumers were surveyed before higher tariffs on China were announced; the costs of tariffs will be passed on to consumers, which is expected to dampen consumer sentiment.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes and minutes of the Fed’s FOMC Committee meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That Work

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That WorkNo doubt you’ve been told that curb appeal will help sell your home. But if money is short you’ll need to do some curb appeal on a budget tricks.

Following are some inexpensive curb appeal tips that really work.

Fresh Coat Of Paint

A fresh coat of paint adds curb appeal without busting the budget. With a gallon of paint you can freshen up the window ledges, shutters, front door and the garage door. Add a fresh coat of paint to decks and railings, and street lampposts, as well. 

Solar Lighting

You can find inexpensive solar lighting stakes at discount stores around the country. Add these to the edges of the driveway, along the front pathway and around front hedges for nighttime curb appeal.

Metallic Paint

If you can’t afford brand new hardware for your front door, consider investing in a small tub of metallic paint. Refinish the doorknob, door knocker and the metal porch light fixtures. 

Annuals

Landscaping can be pricey, but with a couple dozen inexpensive blooming annuals you can transform your front walkway. Choose the most colorful annuals you can find at your local discount store. Plant right alongside the path leading to your front door. Fill in empty spaces in between plants with colored mulch. 

Wreath

Simply hanging an attractive wreath on your front door adds a tremendous amount of curb appeal that can be seen all the way from the road. To avoid marring the wood, use a wreath hanger that installs over the top rim of the door. 

New House Numbers

Pick up a set of brand new house numbers from your local hardware store. Hang them front and center next to your mailbox on your porch, on your mailbox post or over your garage door.

Refreshed Mailbox

Mailboxes get ignored so many times. It’s a shame because it’s easy to add curb appeal with an inexpensive magnetic mailbox cover. If you have a different kind of mailbox, consider just giving it a fresh coat of spray paint. 

Bird House

Another inexpensive way to add curb appeal is with a decorative bird house or similar lawn ornament next to your front porch. These are on long stakes that you simply push into the ground. Tick one into your hedges for a charming look.

You can complete these inexpensive curb appeal tips with a minimum of time and money. Yet, they’ll have a similar impact as if you spent hundreds of dollars. 

If you are interested in purchasing a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

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NAHB: May Home Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level in 7 Months

NAHB May Home Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level in 7 MonthsThe National Association of Home Builders reported the highest builder confidence reading in seven months for May. May’s reading exceeded expectations for an index reading of 64 and rose three points to 67.

Component readings for the main NAHB reading were also higher. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose three points to 72; confidence in housing market conditions for the next six months rose one point to 72 and the reading for buyer traffic in single-family housing developments rose two points to 49.

Any reading over 50 indicates most builders are positive about housing market conditions, but the reading for buyer traffic is often lower than 50. May’s reading suggests that builders were expecting solid buyer traffic as the peak home buying season started. The average NAHB Housing Market Index reading for 2018 was 67; 2019’s average reading is 62.

March housing starts were the lowest in two years. Lower mortgage rates could increase demand for homes and possibly compel builders to ratchet up construction, but there are no guarantees that low mortgage rates will hold steady over the long run.

Builders Cite Ongoing Obstacles Including Tariffs And Labor Costs

Home builders continued to experience higher materials and labor costs. Tariffs were cited as a cause of higher materials costs that are passed on to buyers by raising home prices. While would-be buyers may enter the market due to lower mortgage rates, higher home prices are likely to sideline first-time and moderate income buyers who are concerned with affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements.

Freddie Mac reported that based on its survey of recent buyers, about 16 percent of recent home buyers relied on seller assistance. While seller contributions to home buyers are carefully regulated, this type of transaction can help buyers get into a home without spending their last dollar.

Rapidly rising home prices and buyer competition have skewed housing markets in favor of sellers in high-demand markets, but slower growth of home prices in recent months could help more renters buy homes. Continued trade negotiations and increased tariffs on China could impact housing costs depending on terms of negotiations and tariffs imposed.

 

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Can I Sell A House That Still Needs Repairs?

Can I Sell A House That Still Needs RepairsWhen you started thinking about putting your house up for sale, you probably made a list of repairs that need to be done ahead of time. If that list was long, you might be at a point where you’re asking if it’s all worth it. Will prospective buyers really notice the little things? And even if they do, will that affect how much you’re able to get for your home?

You Can Sell An Imperfect House

Your house doesn’t need to be perfect in order to sell it. Many older homes have some issues like outdated kitchens and bathrooms or wall-to-wall carpeting that needs to be replaced or gotten rid of.

But be aware that a house in need of repair or is different than a house that needs updating. Outstanding repairs are a red flag to buyers that you haven’t maintained the home as you should have over the years. Buyers may suspect that your home needs even more repairs than the obvious issues. So first off, you might have more buyers walk away from a house in need of repair and second, you will probably get less money for your home. 

Outstanding Repairs Give Buyers Leverage

When you try to sell a home that’s in need of repairs, you give buyers leverage to get a lower price out of you. For instance, if your house needs a new furnace, the buyers might say, “Well, we’ll make an offer but it’s lower by this amount because we know we’ll have to get a new HVAC system as soon as we move in”.

That amount for the HVAC system will usually be more than what you could have paid for a new furnace before listing your home. You can almost always sell your house for more by taking care of repairs first.

One thing that real estate agents advise is to get an independent home inspection report before you sell. This will give you an official list of all the repairs that need to be done. Then you can pick and choose among which repairs you should take care of.

This also helps to avoid unpleasant surprises later on. Even though finishing repairs can be costly and time-consuming, many home sellers find that it’s worth it to do as much as possible before listing. The final purchase price often ends up reimbursing you for your expenses, if not for your time.

As you prepare to sell your current property, it’s a good idea to consult with your trusted mortgage professional about your financing options for your next home purchase.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 13th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 13th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on job openings and inflation. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

April Inflation Falls Short of Expectations

The Consumer Price Index for April fell by 0.10 percent to 0.30 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 0.40 percent, which hatched the March reading. The Core Consumer Price Index excludes volatile food and fuel sectors; core inflation grew by 0.10 percent in April, which matched the March reading and fell short of the expected growth rate of 0.20 percent.

The Federal Reserve has set an annual inflation rate of 2.00 percent as a benchmark reading for achieving its mandate of price stabilization.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped four basis points to 4.10 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell three basis points to 3.57 percent on average. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were five basis points lower and averaged 3.63 percent.

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

Freddie Mac analysts said that low mortgage rates would support continued growth in the housing market. Slowing rates of home price growth and lower mortgage rates should help to balance market conditions between sellers and home buyers.

Low mortgage rates, strong job markets and steady wage growth provide a solid basis for first-time home buyers to enter the housing market, but affordability remains an obstacle for first-time and moderate income home buyers.

New jobless claims fell by 2000 claims to 228,000 claims filed.  Analysts expected a reading of 218,000 new claims filed Analysts said the spike was caused by the late Easter holiday’s impact on seasonal adjustments to jobless claims.

Whats Next

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on housing markets from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued will be issued along with a report on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

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The Benefits Of Developing A Multi-Use Property

The Benefits Of Developing A Multi-Use PropertyRenovations that create a multi-use property or the development of a new multi-use project can be a very attractive investment especially in urban areas that are undergoing redevelopment. The concept of multi-use is to make the most of the site that is revitalized or developed.

Multi-Use Projects

Typical multi-use projects have a mixture of retail space, restaurants, offices, and/or living spaces. They may include parking areas. Large multi-use projects can also become destination locations that are core improvements, which create a momentum for the gentrification of an entire area. Waterfronts, boardwalks, and walking promenades are successful as multi-use projects in many cities.

The advantages for investors in these projects include the ability to design the use of the space to maximize the return on investment (ROI). Depending on the area for the project’s construction, there may also be tax advantages.

Tax Advantages

Under the new tax laws, Opportunity Zones all across America have been created to stimulate redevelopment in areas that are distressed. The federal tax advantages include either delaying capital gain taxes or avoiding them altogether if investors hold the investments for more than ten years.

It is also possible to sell a project in an Opportunity Zone for a profit and then reinvest the proceeds under a tax exchange transaction into another investment in an Opportunity Zone and avoid paying the capital gains. Check with a competent real estate and tax attorney to learn how to set up an Opportunity Zone Fund to maximize the tax advantages.

Additionally, the financial basis used for calculating any profits on the second transaction is raised, thereby locking in the tax savings on the profits from the first transaction. This is a very effective strategy for build-to-suit developers who organize a multi-use development project in an Opportunity Zone with the intent to sell it.

State, County, And Municipal Support

Depending on the location, there may be state, county, and/or municipal support in terms of tax abatements and contribution of the land and funds for the development of a multi-use project.

Lack Of Basic Services

Another key consideration is that many Opportunity Zones lack sufficient basic services. Some neighborhoods do not even have a grocery store. A multi-use development, in a distressed neighborhood, which offers services and stores for these basic needs, is likely to experience an immediate consumer demand for the offerings.

Loans And Investment Funds For Multi-Use Projects

Lenders are more attracted to multi-use projects because of the possibility of higher average rents per square foot that will cover the monthly mortgage payments. Multi-use projects can be successfully funded by crowd-sourcing techniques as well.

Opportunities For Real Estate Agents And Brokers

REALTORS® have commission-earnings potential in the sale/acquisition of the properties for a multi-use development, leasing out the properties when developed, and selling a project upon construction completion or after being leased out.

Conclusion

The advantages of multi-use approaches as a development project are significant. There is plenty of support available in many parts of the country for these projects. REALTORS® benefit from many opportunities for commissions on each project as the development begins, the project is leased out, and then potentially sold.

If you are interested in investment properties, be sure to schedule an appointment with your trusted lending professional to discuss your financing options.

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Case-Shiller: February Home Price Growth Rate Slowest in 6.50 Years

Case-Shiller February Home Price Growth Rate Slowest in 6.50 YearsHome price growth slowed in February according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. Home price growth hit its lowest rate in more than six years; this indicates that the roaring growth of home prices is settling and could provide opportunities for more would-be buyers to enter the housing market.

The 20-City Housing Market Index rose 0.20 percent in February as compared to January. Year-over year home prices grew by 3.00 percent and missed analyst expectations of a 3.20 percent growth rate. The 20-City Index reported slowing trends in home price growth and emerging trends in housing markets within metro areas tracked.

California’s Hold On Top Housing Price Growth Topples

Home price growth in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California slowed enough to lose their hold on highest home price growth rates seen in recent years. San Francisco was the only city to lose ground in national home price growth with a reading of 1.40 percent growth.

The top three cities with highest gains in home prices were Las Vegas, Nevada with year-over year home price growth of 9.70 percent; Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 6.70 percent and Tampa, Florida where home prices grew by 5.40 percent year-over-year.

No double-digit home price gains were reported in the 20-City Home Price Index in February; as a comparison, home prices in Seattle, Washington had grown at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 12.70 percent a year ago. Rapidly rising home prices slowed in California due to lack of homes for sale coupled with affordability.

Buyers seeking affordable homes in temperate climates shifted their searches to metro areas offering more homes for sale at affordable prices. While fluctuating mortgage rates impact homebuyers depending on home loans, slower rates of home price appreciation can encourage would-be home buyers to enter the market.

Regional Home Price Growth Trends Shift

Home price growth slowed nationally; Case-Shiller’s February reading showed a year-over-year rate of 4.00 percent growth as compared to January’s reading of 4.20 percent home price growth. David M. Blitzer, chair and managing director of the S&P Indices Committee, cited slowing growth in new home sales, housing starts and residential investment as more signs of cooling housing markets. Mr. Blitzer also said that regional trends in home prices growth were shifting. While home price growth in East and West Coast and Great Lakes regions slowed, home price growth gained in inland areas.

 

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