Moving From An Apartment To A House? Here’s What You Need To Remember About Your Lease

Moving From An Apartment To A HouseThe major problem that the vast majority of buyers will run into – especially when purchasing their first home – has to do with a lease agreement that is still active with their apartment complex at the time of the purchase. If you locate the perfect home in February but your lease isn’t over until August, you can’t be expected to wait around.

But at the same time, the remainder of that lease agreement could represent thousands of dollars that you’ll be paying to essentially “live” in two different places at the same time.

Luckily, all hope is not lost. There are a variety of steps that you can take to help mitigate your remaining financial risk at your apartment as much as possible.

Breaking Your Lease Early: What You Need to Know

First, look at your existing lease agreement and make sure you understand their early termination policy. This will outline the various acceptable ways, usually dictated in large part by state and other local laws, that you can break a lease early without being forced to pay through the duration of the agreement itself.

Much of this will vary based not only on the state, but also the property manager in question. Your property manager may very well allow for early termination for home buyers – particularly if they’re in an area where they know they can rent the apartment quickly.

This is not always the case, though, which is why you need to begin by reviewing the situation thoroughly so you know what you’re dealing with.

Next, you should review what state laws have to say about your landlord’s duty to find a new tenant in the area of the country that you’re living in. In some states, for example, your landlord MUST make “reasonable efforts” to re-rent your unit as quickly as possible, regardless of the reason you’ve decided to leave.

Many state housing laws require landlords to make every effort to keep their own losses at a minimum – meaning that you may not have to pay much, if anything at all, to break your lease early provided that you give said landlord enough notice. 

Why Conversations Matter

Finally, you’ll want to sit down with your landlord face-to-face (if you haven’t already done so) and explain to them exactly what is going on. Landlords are people too and oftentimes they can be more sympathetic than you think.

According to an authority on the matter, the “worst case scenario” for most renters-turned-buyers breaking a lease agreement is often that they’ll need to pay an early termination fee to break their agreement early. This can be as little as one month’s rent to “a few month’s rent” depending on the situation.

At the very least, this is better than being forced to pay every month for the remainder of your term.

In the end, it’s important for you to understand that you should not let anything get in the way of buying the home you’ve always wanted – even if you’re currently living in an apartment with an active lease agreement.

You just need to know as much about the specifics of that agreement as possible so that you can move into your new home while mitigating as much risk as possible for both yourself and your landlord at the same time.

It’s wise to consult with your trusted home financing professional about the implications of your specific situation.

Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , ,

What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Putting 20 Percent Down On A Home Purchase?

Should You Put 20 Percent Down On Your Home Purchase?Several generations ago, lenders required home buyers to have a 20 percent down payment in order to get a mortgage. While there were a few options out there for people who couldn’t save this substantial amount, the reality was that for the majority of people, the 20 percent down was a requirement.

It was the way to show that you were financially responsible enough for homeownership. And it was a strong way that the banks felt secure in making a home loan.

Today, however, homebuyers have many options available to them as they shop for a new home, and those mortgage options mean that the 20 percent down payment is no longer as much of a requirement. For most buyers, especially those who do not have the equity of an existing home to help with their purchase, the 20 percent down payment is not even a possibility.

Yet for those who can do so, putting 20 percent down carries some benefits worth considering. Here is a closer look at when the large down payment makes sense, and what the potential drawbacks are that buyers should consider.

How The 20 Percent Down Payment Helps

When it is possible for the buyer to save enough, the 20 percent down payment does have some benefits that are worth considering. First, when you are able to save 20 percent, you can get a mortgage that has no private mortgage insurance or similar fees. Because lenders consider a borrower with less than 20 percent for the down payment to be higher risk, they charge additional fees to serve as insurance on these loans.

Putting 20 percent down also means you are borrowing less. Because every dollar you borrow will be charged interest, the less you borrow the lower your repayment costs should be over the life of the loan. If you have the ability to save 20 percent, this is a benefit worth considering.

The Drawbacks Of 20 Percent Down

While saving 20 percent does have some benefits, it also has drawbacks that you must also consider. First, 20 percent of a home loan is a significant amount of money. On a modestly priced $100,000 house, that means you have to save $20,000. For the average home buyer, this represents years of saving. And you could be giving up years of price appreciation on the home that you could have purchased earlier by using one of the other financing options.

Also, if you are putting all of that money down as your down payment, you may find yourself cash strapped for other home buying costs, like new furniture or closing costs on your mortgage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns that this can be a significant downside, especially for first-time buyers who have a lot of expenses as they make the move into their first homes.

Many people find themselves digging into their other investments, like their 401(k), to come up with the money for the down payment. When mortgage interest rates are low, this can be an unwise move. Paying a bit more in interest over the life of a mortgage is often better than creating a serious financial bind for your future needs. Digging into your retirement also means you are not getting that vital compounding interest.

Finally, saving 20 percent often means you can’t buy a home quite as quickly. Since home prices historically tend to rise, not fall, the longer you wait, the more you may spend on your home. If home prices rise by 5 percent a year, which is fairly standard, waiting two years to purchase the home means $10,000 in extra costs for a $100,000 home. The higher purchase price counters any savings you may have when you put down 20 percent.

Can You Buy With Less Than 20 Percent Down?

So can you buy a home with less than 20 percent down? The answer to that question is yes, and often it makes more financial sense to do so. In fact, according to Freddie Mac, 40 percent of homebuyers in today’s markets are making down payments of less than 10 percent. So if you are going to buy a home without saving the 20 percent, what are your options?

If you have strong credit, many lenders are still offering piggyback loans. These loans allow you to take out a smaller loan for part of your down payment, then a traditional loan for the rest of the purchase price. You may still need about 5 percent of your own money to put down on the purchase. Then you can work with your lender to borrow 15 percent with a smaller, and many times shorter-term loan, and the remainder with a conventional mortgage.

Down payment assistance is another option to consider. These programs, which are available through non-profit organizations or government-run programs, give homeowners a hand in coming up with the down payment they need to purchase the home.

Finally, consider the low down payment options that are out there. USDA loans, VA loans, FHA loans and similar loan products are designed for those with just a little bit to put down on the home. The FHA loan, for example, is a government-backed loan that requires just 3.5 percent down on the home.

Forbes indicates it is even possible to get a conventional loan with as little as 3 percent down. In some instances, like the USDA home loan program, you can even buy a home with no down payment.

While these home loans do have additional costs, like the funding fee for the VA loan or private mortgage insurance for conventional low down payment loans, they give you the ability to buy now without 20 percent down so you can start enjoying the benefits of homeownership sooner.

When buying a home, getting sound financial advice is always wise. Whether you choose to put down a large amount on your home or take advantage of these different loan options to buy with a smaller amount down, make sure you weigh your options before making your choice.

Posted in Mortgage | Tagged , ,

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

What is a mortgage pre-approvalWhen you are purchasing a home, your lender may recommend you obtain a mortgage pre-approval before you find the home of your dreams. There are some benefits to being pre-approved before you find a home, but oftentimes, people confuse pre-qualifications with pre-approvals.

So the question many buyers have is what exactly is a mortgage pre-approval? In a nutshell, it’s when the lender provides you (the buyer) with a letter stating that your mortgage will be granted up to a specific dollar amount.

What Do I Need For Pre-Approval?

In order to obtain a pre-approval for your home purchase, you will have to provide your lender all of the same information you would need to show for qualifying for a mortgage. This means providing tax returns, bank statements and other documents that prove your net worth, how much you have saved for your down payment and your current obligations.

What Conditions Are Attached to a Pre-Approval?

Generally speaking, a pre-approval does have some caveats attached to it. Typically, you can expect to see some of the following clauses in a pre-approval letter:

  • Interest rate changes – a pre-approval is done based on current interest rates. When rates increase, your borrowing power may decrease
  • Property passes valuation and inspection – your lender will require the property you ultimately purchase to come in with a proper appraisal and meet all inspection requirements
  • Credit check requirements – regardless of whether it’s been a week or six months since you were pre-approved, your lender will require a new credit report. Changes in your credit report could negate the pre-approval
  • Changes in jobs/assets – after a pre-approval is received, a change in your employment status or any substantial assets may result in the pre-approval becoming worthless

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

One of the major issues that affect some borrowers as they are preparing to purchase their new home is financing large ticket items before the home purchase loan is completely funded.  Even if you are buying new furniture or other items for the home, it’s best to wait until after your home loan is entirely complete before purchasing any of these new items.

Work changes can also drasitically affect your pre-approval status.  Make sure your loan professional is well aware of any changes well in advance of them happening in order to plan effectively.  There are ways to work with job changes but it is a delicate matter during the mortgage underwriting process.

Getting pre-approved for a home mortgage may allow you more negotiation power with sellers and may help streamline the entire loan process. It is however important to keep in mind there are still things that may have a negative impact on actually getting the loan.

It is important to make sure you keep in contact with the lender, especially if interest rates increase or your employment status changes after you are pre-approved.

Posted in Mortgage | Tagged , ,

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage Loan?

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage LoanLike credit cards or car loans, some mortgages allow borrowers to have co-signers on the loan with them, enhancing their application. However, a co-signer on a mortgage loan doesn’t have the same impact that it might on another loan. Furthermore, it poses serious drawbacks for the co-signer.

Mortgage Co-Signers

A mortgage co-signer is a person that isn’t an owner or occupant of the house. However, the co-signer is on the hook for the loan. Typically, a co-signer is a family member or close friend that wants to help the main borrower qualify for a mortgage. To that end, he signs the loan documents along with the main borrower, taking full responsibility for them.

When a co-signer applies for a mortgage, the lender considers the co-signer’s income and savings along with the borrower’s. For instance, if a borrower only has $3,000 per month in income but wants to have a mortgage that, when added up with his other payments, works out to a total debt load of $1,800 per month, a lender might not be willing to make the loan.

If the borrower adds a co-signer with $3,000 per month in income and no debt, the lender looks at the $1,800 in payments against the combined income of $6,000, and may be much more likely to approve it.

Co-Signer Limitations

Co-signers can add income, but they can’t mitigate credit problems. Typically, the lender will look at the least qualified borrower’s credit score when deciding whether or not to make the loan. This means that a co-signer might not be able to help a borrower who has adequate income but doesn’t have adequate credit.

Risks of Co-Signing

Co-signing arrangements carry risks for both the borrower and the co-signer. The co-signer gets all of the downsides of debt without the benefits. He doesn’t get to use or own the house, but he’s responsible for it if the mortgage goes unpaid.

The co-signer’s credit could be ruined and he could be sued (in some states) if the borrower doesn’t pay and he doesn’t step in. For the borrower, having a co-signer adds an additional level of pressure to make payments since defaulting on the loan will hurt him and his co-signer.

As always, it’s a good idea to speak with your trusted mortgage loan professional for advice in your specific situation.

Posted in Mortgage | Tagged , ,

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 12th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 12th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included reports on Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP payrolls, and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Public and Private Sector Jobs Show Mixed Readings

ADP Payrolls reported 235,000 private sector jobs added in February as compared to January’s updated reading of 243,000 jobs added. Analysts estimated 205,000 private sector jobs would be added, but this was based on the original reading of 234,000 jobs added. February was the fourth consecutive month when private sector job growth exceeded 200,000 jobs.

According to the federal government, Non-Farm payrolls added 74000 public and private-sector jobs in February for a reading of 313,000 jobs added. February’s gain was the largest in a year and a half. Analysts expected 222,000 jobs added in February. Analysts cited solid economic strength as contributing to higher-than-expected job growth.

Strong economic growth can encourage prospective home buyers to move from renting to buying a home, but first-time and moderate-income buyers continued to face headwinds including short supplies of available homes and strict mortgage requirements. Rising mortgage rates have also impacted buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgage loans.

National unemployment was unchanged at 4.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose again last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage gained three basis points to 4.46 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates rose by four basis points to 3.94 percent. 

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.63 percent. Discount points held steady at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 231,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 220,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 210,000 first-time claims filed. 

Analysts said that job growth remains robust regardless of higher first-time jobless claims. While layoffs rose in February, analysts said that anomalies including bad weather made it difficult to project February readings for first-time jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and the University of Michigan’s report on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Posted in Financial Reports | Tagged , ,

Tired of Waiting for Summer? 3 DIY Projects That Will Keep You Busy Until the Weather Warms Up

Tired of Waiting for Summer? 3 DIY Projects That Will Keep You Busy Until the Weather Warms UpDo you find yourself staring out the window, longing for an early sunrise, hot days and late evenings? With spring just around the corner, it might feel like summer is a lifetime away.

However, the good news is that you can be productive around the home while you wait for summer to arrive. Let’s take a quick look at three easy do-it-yourself projects that will keep you busy until the summer sun is shining.

Add A Splash Of Spring-y Color

As long as you are willing to do the prep work, painting is one of the most straightforward home improvement projects you can undertake. It is also the best way to put your own personal touch in each room in your home.

If you haven’t painted before, it is best to start with a single room. Spend an hour or two watching instructional videos on YouTube before you head out and begin buying supplies.

The colors that you choose are up to you, but if you are going for a ‘spring’ look, consider pastel colors including soft greens, powder blues and creamy whites.

New Planters For The Garden

If you have a flower or vegetable garden, building new planters is a fun weekend DIY project. You can make planters out of wood, but a more durable option is to use granite, marble or another hard stone.

Simply buy four slabs of stone and a tube or two of stone adhesive. Line up the slabs together and, using a ruler, ensure they are at 90-degree angles. Caulk or glue the slabs on the inside of where they meet and then tape them together on the outside to hold them until the glue cures.

Bird Seed Rings For Your Feathered Friends

Do you enjoy the sound of birds around your home? If so, bird seed rings are the perfect treat to attract them. Creating these delicious treats is easy. Combine gelatin, corn syrup and flour into a thick paste. Mix this paste with a bag of bird seed, ensuring that it is fully combined. Then mold the rings together using a donut pan. Hang these tasty treats outside for your feathered friends to enjoy.

Investing your time in home improvement projects is an excellent way to wait out the sunny days of summer. If you decide that it’s too much work to renovate and that you would rather explore a new home, give us a call. Our friendly real estate team is happy to help you get ready for your next purchase.

Posted in Around The Home | Tagged , ,

The Benefits of Using a Veterans (VA) Loan To Purchase Your Home

The Benefits of Using a Veterans (VA) Loan To Purchase Your HomeU.S. military veterans have opportunities to enjoy some richly-deserved benefits in other aspects of their lives, including some special options for financing their homes. VA loans may give active military personnel, retired veterans, and sometimes surviving family members of veterans the ability to purchase homes that might not prove available to them through more conventional mortgage loans.

But the mere fact that you can do a thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. In some circumstances, military home seekers may find other types of loan options more amenable to their specific needs.

If you’ve decided to pursue a mortgage loan during or following your military career, you may want to examine these considerations before leaping into a VA loan application.

Loan Qualifications and Limits

A VA loan can open the door to home ownership for cash-strapped or credit-challenged military personnel who might otherwise struggle to get a conventional mortgage loan. This type of loan offers tremendous flexibility in qualifying factors such as credit scores and debt-to-income ratios; in fact, VA loans may come with no maximum debt ratio at all.

Potential For Zero Down Payment

Additionally, VA loans do not require the down payment typically needed for a more conventional or FHA loan. (The only other loan with no down payment requirement, the USDA loan, applies to rural areas and comes with some prohibitive income restrictions.)

The elimination of a mandatory down payment, coupled with the relaxed financial qualifications, can make a VA loan the most sensible choice for individuals who suffer from limited resources, “upside-down” credit and short credit histories.

Additional Qualifications To Consider

That said, VA loans usually impose some qualifications of their own — qualifications which may not appeal to some buyers. For one thing, a VA loan can only go toward the primary place of residence, not a summer cottage or second home. Military personnel who already own a home may therefore find this restriction a deal-breaker for their specific needs.

VA Loan Limits

VA loan amounts may also impose varying guaranty limits depending on where you live. The guaranty limit refers to your VA entitlement, the portion of your loan that escapes the down payment requirement.

In most counties, that limit currently levels off at 435,100, although in several major metropolitan markets it can range as high as 679,650. If you want to buy a more expensive home, you may end up making a down payment — potentially making your VA loan competitive against other loan options.

As always, your best move is to call your trusted mortgage professional to discuss the VA home loan option and find out if it’s the best option for you.

Posted in Mortagage Tips | Tagged , ,

Should You Improve Your Home Before Selling Or Not?

To Improve or Not to ImproveSelling your home is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever go through and one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. However, there’s a lot more to selling your home than just sticking a sign out in the front yard. Most likely, your home will need a little work before it is perfect.

Therefore, you’ll have to decide whether you need to take care of home improvement issues yourself or, to sell with the expectation that the buyer will be the one to do so.

We put together a few pros and cons to doing it each way to make your decision a little easier.

Do The Improvements Yourself

Choosing to complete needed improvements yourself means that you will likely get a higher sales price for your home. In addition, with less work to do, it opens up your home to more buyers than one that is a fixer-upper does. Selling will usually be faster and closing more likely to go smoothly.

On the other hand, chances are good that you will not get the full value you put into those improvements at the closing table. In addition, when you are moving, money may be tight making this an even more difficult proposition.

Sell It As A Fixer Upper

The main benefit of selling your home as a fixer-upper is that you will not have to put additional money in up front to pay for updates or repairs. If you are in a difficult financial situation or selling your home at a loss, this may be necessary.

Additionally, you would avoid coordinating work with contractors and obtaining bids on all of the work.  This can be an especially strong consideration if you are selling a home at a distance from where you live or for a relative who no can no longer stay in the home.

One of the downfalls to selling your home as a fixer-upper is that you’ll likely get a lower price and some buyers won’t even come out and view your home if they think there is too much work that needs to be done.

One consideration may be to look at the most inexpensive updates that you can afford to do that will present your home in the best way possible.  Oftentimes painting is one of the most economical ways to improve the look of your home and freshen it up for new buyers.

Discuss your concerns and speak honestly about your financial picture with your trusted mortgage professional and perhaps you will have a better idea of which of these options is the smart choice for your situation.


Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , ,

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 5th, 2018

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 5th 2018Last week’s economic releases included readings on new home sales, pending home sales and Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Construction spending and consumer sentiment reports were also released, along with weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

New Home Sales Drop in January

New home sales were reported at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 593,000 sales in January according to the Commerce Department. Analysts expected a rate of 693,000 sales based on December’s upwardly revised rate of 643,000 sales of new homes. January’s reading was 7.80 percent lower than for December; January’s reading was one percent lower than for January of 2017.

The average price of a new home was $323,000, which was 2.40 percent higher than for January 2017. The current supply of new homes for sale is 15 percent higher year-over-year, which is expected to ease low inventories of available homes.

Meanwhile, pending home sales were 4.70 percent lower in January than for December, which was unchanged as compared to November. Analysts said that sales activity, which is typically slow in January, was not likely a concern overall.

Case-Shiller Reports Higher Home Prices in December

Home prices were 6.30 percent higher year-over -year in December according to Case-Shiller’s 20-city home price index and were 0.60 percent higher month-to-month. The top three cities leading year-over-year home price growth were Seattle, Washington at 12.70 percent, Las Vegas, Nevada with 11.10 percent growth and San Francisco, California with 9.20 percent growth in home prices.  

None of the 20 cities in the index saw home prices fall in 2017 even after adjustments for inflation.

Construction spending was unchanged in January as compared to analyst estimates of 0.40 percent growth in spending. Builders cited concerns over higher materials prices and shortages of lots and skilled labor. Winter weather was also a factor in lower construction spending.

Mortgage Rates Rise New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average rates for fixed rate mortgages last week; rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were lower on average. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged three basis points higher at 4.43 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.90 percent and were five basis points higher.

The average rate for a 5/1 mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.62 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage rates rose for the eighth consecutive week, which caused concerns about affordability for first time and moderate-income home buyers. Combined effects of rapidly rising home prices and higher mortgage rates may sideline buyers.

New jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 210,000 first-time claims filed last week. Analysts expected 226,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 220,000 new claims filed. In other news, the University of Michigan reported a lower reading for consumer sentiment in February with an index reading of 99.7 against an expected reading of 100.0 and January’s reading 0f 99.9.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes multiple readings from the labor sector along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.


Posted in Financial Reports | Tagged , ,

Can Your Waistline Be Affected By Your Kitchen Colors?

Have you ever walked into your kitchen and instantly felt hungry?Have you ever walked into your kitchen and instantly felt hungry?

Rarely do people think about the colors that they choose to paint their kitchens. They are often too busy worrying about whether the kitchen will match the rest of the home, or whether the colors will be satisfactory to the rest of the household.

However, as much as you might want to have a special color in your kitchen, your brain is very likely wired in a way to react in ways that you may not have intended! When painting and decorating your kitchen, you may want to think about the process in a way many people do not — how the colors you choose will affect the way in which you eat. 

Colors affect a lot of our subconscious thinking. As behavioral psychologists have documented, the presence of specific colors your the kitchen can change your eating habits and your cravings for food.

Here are some examples :

Red: The color red increases your appetite. This is why so many restaurants paint their walls red. Although associated with romance and passion, red is also a color which promotes hunger. Furthermore, it has been noted that the color red in your kitchen can influence high blood pressure.

Orange: The color orange is a “stimulating” color; increasing oxygen supply to the brain and providing a mental boost. An orange-themed kitchen may stimulate your appetite, therefore, and make over-eating more likely.

Gray: Gray can be an ideal appetite-suppressing color for your kitchen. This is because, psychologically, gray is calming and relaxing, and it neutralizes anxiety. Gray can arrest binge eating and impulsive snacking. It’s also a color which home stagers recommend for its neutrality.

Blue: The color blue is calming, which can slow your eating speed, and prevent you from over-eating. When decorating your kitchen and dining room, therefore, using blue wallpaper or blue paint; and blue placemats, for example, can result in “slower” eating and fewer feelings of fullness.

And there’s more about blue! There are very few foods that are naturally blue outside of blueberries and some varieties of potatoes. So over time your subconscious mind has trained itself to be wary of any food that is blue. Some weight loss programs suggest eating on a blue plate and even putting a blue light in your refrigerator!

So if you’re concerned about the amount you or your family is eating, painting your kitchen blue may very well help curb the appetite.

Whether you’re a home buyer, a home seller, or just getting ready to remodel, consider the influence of colors in your home. They do more than just “match the next room” — they affect your food and drink cravings as well.

Posted in Home Decorating | Tagged , ,