5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They Signed

5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They SignedWithout a doubt, it can be both overwhelming and exciting to find your dream home and be able to put the money down for it. However, there are a lot of things to know before signing on the dotted line so you can avoid buyer’s remorse. Instead of going it alone, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you decide to commit to your new home.

A Good Agent Is Important

Many homeowners want to find the right place on their own, but having an agent along to assist you in the process can go a long way towards finding your ideal home at the right price. Instead of risking it, choose an agent that comes highly recommended and has an abundance of experience in the business.

Is The Price Right?

It’s easy to be taken in by a beautiful home, but before putting money down you’ll want to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to make sure it’s within reach. You may feel like you can make it work, but paying a too-high mortgage will become a drain over time and may ruin the happiness of your home investment.

What’s The Potential?

When it comes to first-time buying, many potential homeowners go into it with unrealistic expectations. However, demanding too much of your investment can mean you miss out on the gems that have a lot of hidden potential. Instead of saying ‘no’ right away, consider what you can improve for little cost.

Researching The Neighborhood

The focus for many homeowners is definitely the house, but ‘location, location, location’ is a cliche; for a reason. Instead of focusing only on your home, ensure you’ll be living in a neighborhood where you can feel safe and will have access to all the amenities you need.

Investing In An Inspector

A home inspection may feel like a formality, but it’s important to have the right inspector so they will notice maintenance items that can hugely impact your finances. While little items that need to be fixed-up are not a big deal, issues with the foundation or the roof can cause major grievances if they’re not detected.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to buying a home, but by doing your research and being aware of your financial outlook, you’ll be well on your way to a good investment. If you’re currently in the market for a home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

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Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent Plants

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent PlantsIt can be difficult to deal with water restrictions if you’re a bit of a green thumb and don’t want your beautiful plants to go to waste. Fortunately, there are plenty of succulents out there that can be quite striking and will still be able to store the water they need to survive. If you’re looking for some low-maintenance plants that thrive in the dry season, here are a few succulents that will do the trick.

The Christmas Cactus

Known as the Christmas Cactus, this plant can be a great way to get the beautiful flowers of summer without all of the water consumption that’s usually required. While the flowers will come out in the fall, you’ll want to ensure that you fertilize this plant during the summer months and leave it in a low-light spot where it won’t dry out too quickly.

A South African Succulent

Crassula ovate, commonly known as a jade plant, hails from South Africa and has the vibrant, glossy look of a plant that gets watered all the time. Fortunately, you can allow the soil to dry completely before you water it again since overwatering this type of plant will kill it. It’s easy to tell if your jade plant needs water. Once the leaves start to lose their shine, it’s time to get out the watering can.

The Snake Plant

If you’ve seen this type of succulent before, you’ll likely recognize it from its name, which accurately characterizes the long, thin and pointy leaves that jut out from its roots. While this plant will want to indulge in a little bit of light, you can leave it for a long time without having to water it. Just ensure the soil is dry before you pour!

Plant A Pincushion

When people think of cacti, it’s the pincushion variety of cactus that most often comes to mind with its short, pointed frame and multiple clusters. In addition to being easy to take care of and loving the sun, you should let this pint-sized plant dry out completely before giving it another drink. Much like the Christmas Cactus, it will also need to be fertilized in the summer.

It may seem impossible to maintain a garden under water restrictions, but there are plenty of unique succulents out there that can add a lot of variety to your home. If you’re currently in the market for a new home for all your plants, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

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Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever Borrow

Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever BorrowIn these days of low interest rates, it can be a great idea to get into the real estate market and invest in a home. However, if you don’t have the funds saved up to buy a home outright, it may seem like more of a burden than it’s worth. The good news is that you might qualify for a mortgage loan, which tends to come with more favorable terms than a traditional bank loan. Here are three reasons why a mortgage might just be the best money you ever borrow.

Taking Advantage Of Low Interest

Interest rates have been relatively low for a number of years, which can be a definite financial boon when it comes to your monthly mortgage payment. Unfortunately, though, the predictions forecast that rates are on the rise and that means home ownership may be a more difficult dream in the coming years. If you’re interested in getting a home at a lower price with a better interest rate, it may be worth getting a short-term loan for the long-term gain.

Begin To Invest

It will certainly improve your financial outlook if you have a financial plan and a monthly budget you stick to, but few things will help your money grow like investing. Fortunately, real estate is still one of the best investments you can make in terms of helping your money grow and ensuring your future fiscal success. While stocks and mutual funds can be a bit topsy-turvy if you’re not knowledgeable about investing, real estate can be a more reliable asset that’s easier to understand.

Giving Up On Rent

When investing in a home, there are few things more rewarding than not having to pay rent anymore. Instead of effectively tossing away money each month that you’ll never see again, you will be able to see your equity grow in the home and property you purchase. Plus, this equity can be used as leverage for investment in another home. It also means that no matter the downturn in the market, you’ll have a solid investment in something.

You may not like the idea of borrowing money for your mortgage, but it can be a good fiscal choice with interest rates on the rise and the opportunity to say goodbye to rent forever. If you’re currently considering borrowing and are planning on buying a home in the near future, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

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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 one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

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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.

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Investing in a New Home? 3 Reasons You Can’t Skip the Pest Inspection

Investing in a New Home? 3 Reasons You Can't Skip the Pest InspectionThere are so many small details involved in the final purchase of a home that it can be easy to lose track of the things that need to be done. While you won’t be able to forget about a home inspection, a pest inspection can be every bit as important before you sign on the dotted line. If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t forego this important step, consider the following information.

The Final Offer

Few people want to deal with problems, especially when it comes to their dream home. But the entire purpose of a pest inspection is to ensure you know about these problems before you sign on the dotted line. If pest issues are discovered, you’ll still have some decisions to make as to how you want to proceed. You can push the problem back to the homeowner to deal with, or buy the home knowing about the pest issue and use it to negotiate a lower price.

Insurance May Not Help

Homeowner’s insurance will cover your home and belongings in the event of a natural disaster, fire or flood. And in some cases, your policy will cover damage due to pests. However, much of the rot and other damage that pests cause occurs over a long period of time. In these cases, your insurer may not cover the damage, or you may be on the hook for a significant deductible. In any case, your policy may require that you get an inspection when you purchase the home so be sure to check with your insurer.

Feeling Home At Home

Much like experiencing a burglary, discovering a pest problem in your home can be an unsettling experience. Unfortunately, if you’ve just moved into your new home, it can be even more difficult to get comfortable if you think pests are crawling around. It’s important to schedule a pest inspection so you can be sure there are no impediments to enjoying your new home. Yes, it’s one more cost involved before the deal is sealed, but the money spent will be well worth your comfort.

These are just three of the many reasons to invest in a professional pest inspection when buying a new home. It’s a small price to pay to ensure that your home is free of damage-causing pests. If you’re currently getting ready to invest in a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for the inside scoop.

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Forget About the Bank of Mom and Dad — Here’s How You Can Save Your Own Down Payment

Forget About the Bank of Mom and Dad -- Here's How You Can Save Your Own Down PaymentAre you considering buying a home for the first time? For some, it can seem nearly impossible to come up with the funds for the down payment. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can save a little over time and not have to borrow from the “Bank of Mom and Dad”. If you’re looking to invest in a home in the short-term and are looking for solutions to save up, here are some tips on how to get to your down payment amount more quickly.

Create A Budget

Most people don’t like the idea of a budget, but few things are going to help you reach your financial goals like having one. Instead of sticking your head in the sand, add the numbers up and see approximately how much you’re spending each month. It may not seem like it, but getting a sense of what your monthly costs are can help you get a good idea of your overall financial picture and how much you really should be spending.

Get An Extra Job

Whether you want to do a freelance job on the side or get some part-time work, there are few things that are going to help you achieve your goal of home ownership like a little extra money. It may seem like a drag to go to a part-time gig from your full-time job, but it can be well worth it when you begin to see your bank account fill up. It’s just important that your part-time gig pays enough that it’s going to make up for the extra time you’ll be giving up.

Trim The Excess Costs

Now that you’ve got some extra money coming in and you’ve crafted a budget, you’re certainly on the right track. However, indulging in life’s little luxuries can eat away at your savings. While you’ll want to keep a little aside for meals out or entertainment, if you have other sizeable costs you’ll want to eliminate these in order to save for your greater goal.

It can take some time to save up for a down payment, but you may be able to avoid borrowing money if you bring in more each month and get rid of excess costs. For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professional and we’ll be happy to help.

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Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary. And homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings is almost a requirement. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

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Mortgage Tips: Answers to 4 Common Questions About Reverse Mortgages

Mortgage Tips: Answers to 4 Common Questions About Reverse MortgagesThere are many mortgage products on the market that work for all different kinds of homebuyers, but many people have not heard about reverse mortgages and how they can benefit their situation. If you’re curious about this type of mortgage and want to know more, here are some questions that will get you on the road to understanding the ins-and-outs of this product.

What’s A Reverse Mortgage?

The reverse mortgage was created in the wake of the 2008 recession and is commonly known as HECM, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase. While this mortgage option is beneficial for those who want to use the equity in their home and defer their monthly payments, it’s not a good choice for those who are planning to move in the short-term future.

Who Can Qualify?

Since a reverse mortgage allows the homeowner to tap into the equity that they’ve already accumulated in their home, they need to have a high amount of their mortgage paid off. They must also be 62 years of age or older in order to qualify. In addition, they should have a solid financial history so lenders will be assured they have the ability to pay insurance and property taxes.

What’s Required To Apply?

Like all mortgage products, a reverse mortgage is a type of loan so you’ll need to apply for it. In order to do this, you’ll need proper identification, address verification and proof that you’ve met with a professional to ensure this is the right choice for you. In addition, you’ll need to prove that you can make the monthly insurance and property tax payments and you’ll have to provide financial documentation to ensure that you’re a good credit risk.

Should I Choose A Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage can be beneficial if you want to forego monthly payments, but it’s worth knowing that this mortgage will be payable in the event that you decide to sell the home or pass away. It’s also important to be aware that interest can accrue on the home since you’ll be deferring monthly payments. While this may work for you, it’s important to talk with a mortgage professional before making a final decision.

A reverse mortgage can be an option for those older than 62, but it’s important to be aware of what it entails and what it can do for you before choosing this product. If you’re currently considering your mortgage options, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 24, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders and releases from the Commerce Department on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips; Builder Sentiment Remains Strong

Higher lumber costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders as contributing to lower readings for the group’s monthly Housing Market Index. July’s reading was two points lower than May’s index reading. The original May reading of 67 was adjusted to 66.

Builders said that a steep tariff on Canadian lumber has raised building costs, but sentiment remains high as high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale set the stage for new home construction. Builder confidence in market conditions for newly-built homes remained strong as any NAHB Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on market conditions.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase in June

Housing starts increased in June to 1.215 starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 1.163 million housing starts based on 1.122 million housing starts reported in May. Building permits were issued at a higher rate in June, with the annual rate of 1.254 million permits issued as compared to May’s rate of 1.168 million permits issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single-family housing starts rose 6.30 percent as compared to May’s reading, which suggested that builders are focusing on building new homes for sale rather than concentrating on multi-family rental projects. If this trend continues, new construction of single-family homes would help ease severe shortages of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling seven basis points to 3.96 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reached their second-lowest post-recession level last week with a reading of 233,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 245,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 248,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic releases set for this week include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

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