How To Get Your Free Annual Credit Report And Why You Need It

How To Get Your Free Annual Credit Report And Why You Need ItYour credit report influences whether or not you’ll qualify for a mortgage and what kind of interest you’ll pay on that loan. This isn’t something you can safely ignore. Smart homebuyers understand the importance of monitoring credit scores and credit reports. Here is some information about how to get your credit report.

Free Credit Report Available

You’re entitled to free credit report, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can get one free report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

The easiest way to get your free report is to go to AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the official site that was originally established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 

How To Get Your Free Credit Report

Once you reach the site, create an account by registering. Have as much of your available credit information available when you request your free credit report. The reason is because the site will need to verify that it’s actually you requesting the credit report. If you have your information at hand, it will be easier and faster to confirm your identity.

This is just a process that the site has in place to protect your identity from fraud. They might ask you things like past residences, past credit card companies, or something else. 

Why You Need To Get Your Free Annual Credit Report

When you apply for a home loan, the lender will pull your credit report and review it. They’ll look for signs that you are a good credit risk. Things they consider include how you handle your debt to income ratio, whether or not you pay your bills on time and if you have any negative notations on your credit report.

For this reason, you should look at your own credit report before applying for a mortgage. This gives you a chance to fix anything that is incorrect in your credit report and an opportunity to improve your credit report if it’s not in great shape. 

You Can Help Prevent Identity Fraud

Another important reason to review your free annual credit report is to prevent fraud. If you see anything unfamiliar on your report, such as loans you didn’t take out or balances for things you don’t recognize, you can immediately act on those issues so they don’t affect your chance at getting approved for a home loan.

Always be proactive when it comes to your credit history. By availing of your right to a free annual credit report, you can ensure that your credit is in as good as possible condition when you go to apply for a mortgage.

If you are looking for a new home or if you are interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

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Pros and Cons of Replacing Your Roof Before a Listing

Pros and Cons of Replacing Your Roof Before a ListingYou might be wondering whether to replace your roof before listing your property. Most reputable real estate agents will advise you only to do so if your current roof isn’t likely to pass inspection or if replacing it will significantly raise the value of your home. 

Here is some valuable information to help you decide.

Pros Of Replacing Your Roof Before You Sell

Buyers are attracted to homes with curb appeal and online photos highlighting a new roof will attract a lot of traffic. That means you may sell your home more quickly. Roofing replacements also help you when it comes time to negotiate a sales price. Buyers will be willing to pay more for the security of knowing they won’t need a new roof anytime soon.

Cons Of Replacing Your Roof Before A Listing

Putting on a new roof is a huge financial commitment. It may not be one you’re willing to assume before moving into a new property. Other problems may arise that delay construction or cause cost overruns. Both of these scenarios impact your ability to look for a new home right away, meaning you can’t put the current one up for sale.

Consider Repairing It Instead

If your roof is in decent shape, talk to an expert about whether it needs to be repaired. If there’s structural damage, chances are an inspector or appraisal will request repairs prior to closing anyway. You may want to just get it taken care of. If the roof is in good shape but doesn’t look great, it may just need to be cleaned and spruced up. A roofing expert can give you some great ideas that are within your budget.

Should You Replace Your Roof?

Ultimately, it’s your decision. It’s important to determine how much a new or repaired roof adds to the price you’re likely to get. Dealing with construction on a home that no longer meets your needs is stressful. If the roof needs a lot of work, it may be worthwhile to offer a concession to the buyer — you essentially give them the money to fix it when they move in — so you can move out and move on sooner. Your time frame is another factor. If you don’t have a lot of time, this may be your best option.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

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What Exactly Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

What Exactly Is Private Mortgage InsurancePMI, which is also called private mortgage insurance, is protect that the lender may ask the buyer to purchase. In the event that the buyer defaults on their home loan and the home enters foreclosure, the lender has a way to recoup their losses.

While the lender may not ask everyone to purchase PMI, there are some situations where the lender may ask the buyer to purchase this insurance policy to qualify for the loan.

Every lender is a little bit different; however, there are some trends throughout the industry. Most lenders ask the buyer to place a down payment of about 20 percent of the total price of the house. If the buyer is not able to put at least 20 percent down on a home, the loan is riskier for the lender. In this case, the lender may ask the buyer to purchase a PMI policy.

The Structure Of A PMI Payment

Typically, the PMI policy is paid in a monthly manner. It is included as a part of the total mortgage payment as the buyer pays the loan back to their lender. The positive news is that the buyer typically does not have to pay PMI for the life of the loan. Once the equity in the home reaches about 22 percent, the lender typically terminates PMI. 

In some situations, the buyer may be able to contact the lender and ask for PMI termination at an earlier date. Some people can negotiate this percentage or time period in advance of taking out the loan.

The Cost Of Private Mortgage Insurance

In general, the cost of a PMI policy is dependent on the value of the mortgage loan. It typically runs somewhere between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of the total value of the mortgage loan. Therefore, this can raise the monthly mortgage payment by a significant amount.

For example, if someone receives a $300,000 loan from the bank with a PMI policy of 1 percent, the buyer will have to pay an extra $3,000 per year as part of their mortgage payment. This is an extra $250 per month on their total payment. For some people, this additional cost might make their dream house unaffordable. 

Therefore, whenever possible, buyers should try to work with their trusted professional mortgage lender and look at options to avoid purchasing PMI. Every lender is a little bit different when it comes to private mortgage insurance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 15th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 15th, 2019Last week’s economic releases included readings on inflation, an essay from Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan and the monthly consumer sentiment index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Flat in September

Inflation did not change in September; August’s reading showed 0.10 percent growth, which matched the July reading. Falling gasoline prices caused the flat reading. Analysts said that cooling inflation may prompt Federal Reserve policymakers to cut the target Federal Funds interest rate range at their next meeting.

The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors rose 0.10 percent in September; analysts expected 0.20 percent growth based on August’s month-to-month inflation rate of 0.30 percent growth.

In related news, Robert Kaplan, President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said in an essay that he had no pre-determined plan for the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of October. He wrote, “I intend to avoid being rigid or predetermined from here and plan to remain highly vigilant and keep an open mind on whether further action on the federal funds rate is appropriate.”  

Mr. Kaplan cited a concern that he shares with other FOMC members over a pull-back in business spending that could impact consumer confidence and spending Mr. Kaplan wrote that he was “mindful about “asset bubbles” caused by investors seeking higher yields.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell eight basis points to 3.57 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell nine basis points to 3.05 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.35 percent and three basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 210,000 initial claims filed and were lower than the expected reading of 220,000 claims filed. Analysts said that fewer first-time jobless claims indicated minimal threat of layoffs.

October’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 2.80 points to an index reading of 96 as compared to September’s reading of 93.20 points. Analysts expected an index reading of 92.50 points.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

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3 DIY Home Improvement Projects You Can Complete Before Thanksgiving

3 DIY Home Improvement Projects You Can Complete Before ThanksgivingIt’s the time of year when many people are making their holiday plans: booking travel, making shopping lists, and getting their home ready for guests. Hiring a house cleaner, having the carpets steamed, and buying new furniture ahead of the holiday season are all common, but what about completely updating a room (or two)?

It’s easy to think that home improvement projects are too expensive or will take several weeks or even months to complete. However, there are several simple, affordable do-it-yourself projects that can be completed in a weekend to give outdated rooms a fresh new look — in plenty of time to host holiday guests. 

Refinish Kitchen Cabinets The Easy Way

Painting cabinets is an excellent way to totally transform a kitchen. This fun budget-friendly project can be done in a weekend or spread out over a couple of weeks if necessary. With adequate preparation and attention to detail, the “new” cabinets will look great for years to come.

Minimal supplies are necessary for this project and there is no limit to the looks that can be created using different paint colors, stains, and seals.

Create A Shiplap Accent Wall

Arguably one of the most popular home decor trends is the rustic farmhouse look, and shiplap is at the center of that. Using basic tools that are likely already in the garage and some plywood from the local hardware store, it’s easy to create a unique shiplap wall and dramatically change the look of a room.

The most fun part about DIY shiplap is that it’s so customizable. Use reclaimed or pallet wood, paint unfinished planks, or try using boards cut to different lengths. 

Update Flooring With Vinyl Or Laminate

Replacing outdated flooring is perhaps the biggest bang-for-the-buck DIY project that can drastically freshen up a space. Changing the floors in even one room can have a tremendous impact on the look of the entire home. 

With so many budget-friendly options such as click-together laminate panels and peel-and-stick vinyl tiles, choose different looks for different rooms or go for one cohesive look throughout the house.

Giving a home an entirely new look doesn’t have to involve a complicated renovation project. Major home improvement stores and websites have step-by-step tutorials to make it as simple as a few coats of paint and some elbow grease.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

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How To Stage A House For A Faster Sale At A Higher Price

How To Stage A House For A Faster Sale At A Higher Price“Staging” a house means to prepare it for sale in ways that make it more attractive to potential buyers. Homeowners can do much of this staging work themselves and should get suggestions from their real estate agent. They can also hire a professional to do the staging work for them.

Value-Added Staging

A study of 4,200 sold homes, conducted by Home Staging Resource (HSR), found that 85% of the staged homes sold for 6% to 25% more than a home that was not staged.

Forbes reports that 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. This is 87% faster when compared to the time it takes, on average, to sell a home that is not staged.

An average home sells for 10% to 20% less than the asking price. It may be even more beneficial to stage a home that would otherwise have to sell as a “fixer-upper.” When listing a home, which is in disrepair, the asking price must be at a steep discount from the market value of a similar home that is in a better condition. This steep discount may be reduced by staging the home properly.

The general rule-of-thumb is that every $100 dollar invested in staging may return up to $400 in a higher sales price.

Staging Priorities

The National Association of REALTORS® published the 2017 Profile of Home Staging, which says the staging priorities are:

  • Declutter: Decluttering a home creates more open space that makes the home look bigger. Remove at least half of the items in the home and two-thirds of the stuff in the closets. De-personalize the home by removing photos, kid toys, items for pets, etc.
  • Cleaning: The entire house needs to be immaculately clean, inside and out, to the level of a five-star hotel.
  • Carpet Cleaning/Replacement: Carpet needs to look and smell like new or it should be replaced.
  • No Pets or Children: Do not have children or pets in the home, when showing it to potential buyers.
  • Renovations: Repairs, re-painting, and re-decorating should be done tastefully and by using neutral colors that appeal to most people.
  • Rooms: Priority staging concentrates on these rooms, in this order: 1) Living Room; 2) Kitchen; 3) Master Bedroom and Bath; and 4) Dining Room.
  • Vacant Home: A vacant home will probably sell much easier when staged using rented furniture.

Conclusion

Staging a home for sale makes perfect sense and is worth the investment of time, energy, and money. The benefits are that the home usually sells for a better price, probably sells more quickly, and the investment in staging usually makes a profit for the home seller. Your real estate professional is available to offer guidance in selling your home quickly for a great price.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

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The Most Popular Cities For Relocating To Get A Better Deal On A Home

Many people are looking to buy homes, not across the street, not somewhere else in town, but in other parts of the country. The motivator for this is that there are significant differences in the median prices for home sales in different parts of America. This is not a result of the places being undesirable.

Many of the places with excellent values in home prices are very desirable. In these nice cities, the lower prices are more about the local economy, the cost of living, and the availability of homes for sale.

Popular Cities For Relocation

The Most Popular Cities For Relocating To Get A Better Deal On A HomeA study done by REALTOR® identified the most popular cities that people search for when looking for a new home in another area that is different from where they currently live.

The median home price in America is $226,800.

Areavibes ranks American cities based on a livability score that considers many factors, which include the cost of living, crime, school, employment, and amenities. The livability score is a scale that goes up to 100.

Here are the top choices in the order of their popularity for searches and median home prices along with their livability score:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina – Median home price is $269,400. Livability score is 77.
  2. Boise, Idaho – Median home price is $191,000. Livability score is 80.
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii – Median home price is $601,500. Livability score is 73.
  4. Columbia, South Carolina – Median home price is $164,200. Livability score is 63.
  5. Fort Myers, Florida – Median home price is $160,800. Livability score is 70.
  6. Portland, Maine – Median home price is $248,000. Livability score is 66.
  7. Sarasota, Florida – Median home price is $109,500. Livability score is 74.
  8. Greenville, South Carolina – Median home price is $237,800. Livability score is 73.
  9. Tucson, Arizona – Median home price is $135,200. Livability score is 65.
  10. Las Vegas, Nevada – Median home price is $184,900. Livability score is 71.

Cost Of Living

The cost of living is a big factor that impacts the quality of life for the average person. The cost of living includes the cost of housing, groceries, transportation, health care, utilities, and other goods and services. The national standard for America’s cost of living is set at 100.

The cost of living index in each city is a number that is higher or lower than 100. Higher figures than 100 represent a percentage higher than the national average. Lower numbers than 100 are cities that cost less than other cities in America.

Here is the cost of living index for these popular cities:

  • Charleston, South Carolina – 115
  • Boise, Idaho – 96
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – 182
  • Columbia, South Carolina – 101
  • Fort Myers, Florida – 94
  • Portland, Maine – 114
  • Sarasota, Florida – 108
  • Greenville, South Carolina – 106
  • Tucson, Arizona – 92
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – 100

Conclusion

The lowest median price for a home is found in Sarasota, Florida. The city with the highest livability score is Boise, Idaho. The lowest cost of living is in Tucson, Arizona. These are all great cities to live in. For those who have the option to relocate, to get a better price when buying a home, they should all be considered as decent choices.

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

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New FHA Financing Available For Condo Buyers That Has A Low Down Payment

New FHA Financing Available For Condo Buyers That Has A Low Down PaymentCondominium owners and buyers have previously been at a disadvantage when trying to use the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) support to get a home mortgage. Single-family homes could get better FHA mortgage deals than condominiums. In October 2019, this changes.

New FHA Condominium Financing

As of October 15, 2019, FHA loan availability is extended to condominium buyers. This is important news for first-time buyers who frequently purchase a condominium. First-time buyers appreciate FHA loans because they only require a very modest 3.5% down payment.

FHA loans were strongly curtailed after the real estate market collapse in 2008. Since 2009, most condos did not qualify for FHA loans. The problem was that FHA loans require mortgage insurance and this insurance was only available for about 6.5% of all condos.

In America, there are about 160,000 condominium projects (complexes and buildings). The new FHA program makes mortgage insurance possible for about 20,000 to 60,000 more condominium projects nationally. Not all condos will qualify for the new FHA program; however about half of them will.

Both first-time buyers and people who are down-sizing by selling a larger home appreciate condos. The median price for a condo nationally is around $260,000. This is about $29,000 less than the median price for a home that is about $289,000. Maintenance costs and upkeep for a condo are typically less than caring for a larger home.

Refinance Opportunities

For condo buyers, who could not get FHA loans in the past, they may now qualify for the mortgage insurance needed if they could not get it before. Then, they can refinance a loan to get a better deal with FHA financing if they want to do this.

Easier Condominium Sales

For those who are putting their condos on the market for sale, this new FHA loan program is worthwhile to investigate to see if the condominium building or complex qualifies. If the condo is in a facility that qualifies, this new FHA financing option will potentially attract more buyers

Summary

Real estate agents should become aware of the new FHA program and inform their clients if a condo buyer can use an FHA loan to finance the purchase. This is a very impactful change for the condominium market dynamics. This new FHA loan program is the first of its kind to occur since around 2009, a decade ago, which is great news for condo buyers.

Whether you are looking to buy or refinance, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 7th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 7th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, and labor reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Construction Spending Ticks Up in August

Commerce Department reporting on construction spending showed 0.10 percent growth in August as compared to a revised flat reading for July. Construction spending hit a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of  $1.29 trillion for August.  Analysts expected 0.40 percent growth, which was based on the original July reading of 0.10 percent growth.

Residential construction spending rose 0.90 percent in August ; public construction spending rose 0.40 percent for the month. Factors impacting residential construction spending include rising costs of building materials, winter weather conditions and mortgage rates

Mortgage Rates Little Changed; New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported mixed activity with mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose one basis points to an average of 3.65 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.14 percent and were two basis points lower.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.38 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages  averaged 0.40 percent.

First-time jobless claims rose to 219,000 claims filed and surpassed expectations of 218,000 new claims. 215,000 first-time claims were filed the prior week.

Jobs Growth Slows; National Unemployment Rate Drops

September jobs reports showed fewer jobs available for public and private sector employers. The federal government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 136,000 jobs added as compared to an expected reading of 150,000 jobs added and the previous month’s reading of 168,000 public and private sector jobs added.

ADP reported 135,000 private-sector jobs added in September as compared to 157,000 jobs added in August. The national unemployment rt rate dropped to 3.50 percent in September.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on job openings, minutes of the most recent FOMC meeting, and reports on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Top Tips For Having A Home That Is Also Your Office

Top Tips For Having A Home That Is Also Your OfficeTelecommuting has significantly changed the housing market. More people than ever before are working from home. Younger people are especially likely to do this and become part of what is called the “gig” economy. Many are working as freelancers or starting online businesses.

Advantages Of Working From Home

There are many advantages to working at home. It is less stressful. There is no commute. This saves money and is better for the environment. There may be lower income taxes because currently, the IRS allows a tax deduction of the expense of a home office. 

Homeworkers find clients online. They also can work from anywhere that has an Internet connection. There may be an opportunity to have a working vacation and keep their online presence going. They can maintain business efforts, perhaps at a reduced level, when also taking some time to enjoy themselves.

Staging A Home With An Office

Staging a home for sale is a useful technique used by real estate agents and homeowners. Staging beautifies the home to make it ready for viewing. This may improve the sale price when selling a home.

Staging may also help sell the home quickly by making it attractive to more potential buyers. Staging includes cleaning the home to make it spotless and strategically decorating the rooms to make them look nice.

One way to increase the attractiveness of a home is to have a room that is set up as a home office. If possible, choose a room with a view. It should be bright and comfortable, to entice buyers who want to work from home.

Buying A Home With An Office

When looking at homes for sale consider buying one that has an extra room or space that can easily convert to a home office. Think about the home design if you will live and work there. The office room needs to be in a quiet part of the home that creates a working environment where there are fewer chances for disturbances.

It is important to be serious when working at home. It is best to have a routine that encourages proper work habits in the home office space. Also, be able to leave the home office at the end of the workday. Avoid the temptation to overwork and set time limits for working hours.

If you plan to have business guests or clients come to your home, you may need to get commercial insurance. Talk this over with your insurance agent.

Summary

A home with an office is highly desirable. Consider retrofitting your home with an office when staging it for sale. For buyers, think about the possibilities of having a room for a home office when viewing homes for sale.

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

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