Manage These 3 Items Before Applying For A Mortgage

Manage These 3 Items Before Applying For A MortgageMortgage lenders weigh the risk of getting their principal and interest paid back by looking at the qualities of the prospective borrrower. And due to the amount of money being requested and lent to purchase homes, those requirements can become daunting.  Working with a trusted and qualified mortgage professional makes this sometimes confusing process a little clearer.

To this end, there are three things that a potential homebuyer can do to prepare for the mortgage approval process.

Manage Debt And Credit Levels

For many homebuyers, managing their credit score is the biggest challenge. Mortgage lenders like buyers with strong credit. While getting strong credit usually isn’t something that can be done overnight, paying bills on time, all of the time can help to build a positive profile.

Using as little credit as possible is also helpful, since high utilization of existing credit lines can harm a borrower’s score. Having less debt can also reduce monthly payments, making it easier to qualify for a larger mortgage.

Manage Income And Qualifying Ratios

Lenders look for two things when it comes to a borrower’s income:

  1. Stable incomes are preferred, so being able to prove the income with a W-2 form or other documentation is usually required. Self-employed people will typically need to prove their income with their tax returns, so taking high write-offs can make it harder to qualify.
  2. A borrower’s income should be significantly higher than his total monthly debt payments. Lenders divide a borrower’s monthly payments — including their proposed mortgage — into the gross monthly income. If the payments exceed a set percentage, the lender will shrink the mortgage until it considers the payment affordable.

Collect Required Paperwork Early

To qualify for a mortgage, borrowers typically need to submit a comprehensive file of supporting documentation. This can include tax returns, pay stubs and bank and investment account statements.

Since lenders frequently want some historical data, it can be a good idea for people considering applying for a mortgage to start collecting documentation before they actually begin the mortgage application process. Once again, working with a qualified mortgage professional will make this process a lot more comfortable.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 9th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 9th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on construction spending, mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. Other labor-related claims included ADP payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Construction Spending Rises in February

Construction spending was higher in February according to the Commerce Department. Spending on building projects rose by 0.10 percent in February Reuters reported that construction spending rose 0.10 percent as compared to expectations of an 0.40 percent increase and January’s unchanged reading. Seasonal weather conditions typically cause lulls in building. Analysts said that residential construction spending increased by 0.10 percent to its highest level since January 2007.

Real estate analysts have consistently indicated that building more homes is the only solution to lingering shortages of available homes in the U.S. Recent news about tariffs on foreign building materials may cause builders to wait and see how tariffs will impact business before going all-out on building homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent.15-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.87 percent, which was three basis points lower than the prior week. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.62 percent and were four basis points lower than for the prior week. 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.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 242,000 new claims filed as compared to 225,000 new claims expected and 218,0000 claims filed the prior week.

Labor Reports Show Mixed Results

ADP reported fewer private-sector jobs created in March with 241,000 jobs created as compared to February’s reading of 246,000 new private-sector jobs. The Labor Department reported a sharp drop in Non-Farm payrolls, which measures public and private-sector job growth. 103,000 jobs were added in March as compared to February’s revised reading of 326,000 jobs added. Jobs added in March were at their lowest level since fall 2017.

Analysts put the low Non-Farm payrolls reading in perspective; on average 202,000 jobs were added monthly during the first quarter of 2018 and jobs growth was faster than during first quarters of 2016 and 2017. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.10 percent; this was the lowest rate in 17 years. Low unemployment rates typically indicate few layoffs and suggest strong economic growth.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will release minutes from its last meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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6 Money Making Tips For The First Time Home Seller

6 Money Making Tips For The First Time Home SellerToday’s homebuyers can have specific ideas and personal preferences that influence their decision on what attracts them to a particular property. While some prefer a fixer-upper, many desire a home that’s as close to turn-key as possible.

First time home sellers may help expedite the process with these six home selling tips. 

Determine Right Listing Price

A home priced competitively in its market typically sells faster. Professional REALTORS® know the area and look at comparative listings to help determine the right listing price.

First time home sellers often think their home should list higher, and this can turn away buyers. Trust a real estate agent to know the right price that will attract potential buyers for a sale that makes all parties happy.

Curb Appeal Makes a Difference

Great curb appeal has the power to attract buyers and create a positive first impression. Simple enhancements add to curb appeal:

  • Mow the lawn or make sure the walk/driveway is clear of snow/ice
  • Prune overhanging branches and trim bushes
  • Remove any sickly or dead vegetation
  • Replenish missing mulch or rocks in landscape beds
  • Replace worn house numbers and/or mailbox
  • Add fresh potted plants to porch for pop of color
  • De-clutter yard by removing lawn ornaments/art and all kids’ toys
  • Have all exterior lighting in working condition

A fresh coat of paint on the front door, clean windows, and a sidewalk swept free from leaves and debris also add to the overall welcoming look. 

De-clutter and Depersonalize

Once potential buyers enter the home, it’s time to make another important impression. Homebuyers should be able to visualize themselves living in the space.

De-cluttering and depersonalizing the home helps. The fewer items in a room, the larger the space feels. Key areas to de-clutter include the kitchen and bathroom, in particular the countertops. Remove all personal items, storing out-of-sight in a closet or cabinet. 

In addition, remove personal photographs and large collections if possible. Children’s rooms don’t need to be completely depersonalized, but it’s essential to de-clutter the space to show it to its best advantage.  

Repairs and Replacements

Every home has a few small items that need repair but have fallen to low priority. Before listing the home, take the time to make these repairs and replacements.

Tighten that loose cabinet in the kitchen, replace the torn bathroom window screen, and refresh the caulk in the showers. Sometimes it’s the little things that turn off homebuyers and these small repairs may be the tipping point for a sale. 

Offer the Extras

In a competitive market, offer extras to entice buyers. Generally, these extras are appliances that stay with the home as part of the sale. Other extras a seller may include within the price of the home are items like window treatments and outdoor accessories like patio furniture. 

Consider a Pre-inspection

A pre-inspection can help reduce concerns potential buyers have regarding the home’s current condition. It’s a way to reassure buyers that the house doesn’t have any hidden issues.

However, getting a pre-inspection doesn’t mean homebuyers won’t want their own home inspection, too. Consult with a real estate professional to help determine if a pre-inspection may be helpful.

First time home sellers don’t have to be overwhelmed with the process. With the right preparation and the help of a professional real estate agent, home selling can move swiftly. 

 

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Should You Consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage For Your Home Purchase?

Should You Consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage For Your Home Purchase?With mortgage rates finally looking like they may move upward a bit as the overall market improves the adjustable rate mortgage starts to come into play again. Better known as the ARM home loan, the adjustable rate mortgage can be a flexible, powerful tool, depending on how it is used.

ARMs Can Help Save On Total Interest Expense

When rates were higher years ago, the ARM was an alternative way to obtain financing for a home without paying as much in interest with every payment. This was ideal for folks who felt that a few years forward the regular market rates would drop or they didn’t plan to stay in the same home for a number of years.

By trading away the mundane predictability of a 30-year fixed loan, the borrower was rewarded with a lower cost loan via an ARM. However, after a short period, anywhere from six month to ten years, the ARM would reset and the rate charged would change to a specific market index.

ARMs became all the rage in the early and mid-2000s as people bought homes to then sell them quickly with rising property values. It was low cost interest paid for large sums of financing, which was then paid back and profits were made just holding a home two years or so and well within the typical ARM period. However, when the real estate market went south a number of years back, many had to hold onto homes longer and rates reset to a higher, floating rate index.

The Advantages of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Today, the advantage of the ARM again presents itself as rates begin to rise, offering again lower interest rates for home financing for a typical one to ten years. But these tools still include the rate reset after the intro period to consider, and with mortgage rates on an upward trajectory for the next few years it’s worth noting that the loan may cost more when the switch happens.

Thus a borrower should remember to look at the ARM as a shorter-term borrowing tool. A few options that can off-set the potential added interest rate costs in the future are:

 

  • sell the home prior to the reset date while verifying that there is no pre-payment penalty period
  • sell the home for a substantial amount more than it was bought for based on price appreciation or property improvement
  • refinance to a fixed-rate loan at a later date to avoid potentially higher index-based floating rates

 

The same caveat from a decade ago applies to today’s ARMs: they can be extremely valuable for up-front borrowing savings, but borrowers need to always remain aware of the included reset date and what it means for further financial obligations down the line.

As always, talk with your trusted mortgage loan professional to examine the best course of action for your personal situation.

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Questions and Answers Regarding The Veterans Loan Program

Questions and Answers Regarding The Veterans Home Loan ProgramOwning a home is important to military veterans just like the majority of other consumers.  The Veteran’s Administration has provided an exceptional benefit for those who have served (or are currently serving) in any of the armed forces. And this VA Loan Program is helping thousands of service members achieve the goal of home ownership.

There are a number of questions that come up regarding the fees and qualifications of the VA Loan Program.  

What Are The Specific VA Fees?

Many veterans and active military personnel like the fact that VA loans don’t require private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI has served as a thorn in the side countless home buyers who couldn’t manage a 20 percent down payment. The good news is that VA loans don’t requre mortgage insurance, even with no down payment at all.

To compensate for the absence of mortgage insurance, the government charges most borrowers a VA Funding Fee. Depending on individual circumstances and the type of funding you need (first-time home purchase versus refinance, for example), this fee can range from.5 percent to 3.3 percent of your mortgage amount.

Fortunately, applicants on disability and surviving spouses may be exempt from this requirement. 

Are There Any Administrative Concerns Regarding VA Home Loans?

VA loans are generally as easy to attain as any other government or conventional mortgage loan products, but they do have some unique qualifications to consider. These issues just need to be known and addressed appropriately throughout the transaction to ensure it goes smoothly.

For instance, if you and your spouse both serve in the military and you want to buy a home together, each of your VA entitlements must go through separate processing and approval procedures.

A VA loan also calls for a specific type of home appraisal called a Minimum Property Requirements (MPR) inspection. This should not be confused with the traditional home inspection. The MPR is the required appraisal by an independent VA appraiser. These appraisers typically dig into the home’s tiniest details, which can also be helpful by uncovering potential issues with the home.

Any home improvement or construction work currently under way may delay the approval process. You can minimize these issues by making sure that both your lender and your REALTOR have extensive experience in working with VA loans.

How Can A VA Loan Save Me Money?

Properly finessed, a VA loan for the right amount, and at the right interest rate, can edge out conventional loans. For instance, that VA Funding Fee, unwelcome as it might seem, could cost substantially less than the down payment you might otherwise put down on a conventional loan — without the need to pay mortgage insurance premiums for the first several years of your home ownership.

While the monthly mortgage payments might not look dramatically different on paper, even a savings of $100 a month can make an enormous difference to your financial health over the life of your mortgage loan.

VA loans can indeed provide some important benefits and buying power for our nation’s past and present military service professionals. Take the time to examine all your options so you can obtain the mortgage loan package that best serves your specific needs and goals.

Ultimately, however, you should probably sit down with a skilled mortgage professional who can run these numbers for you in detail and advise you on your wisest course of action.

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The Younger Mortgage Market: Move Over Millennials, Gen Z Is Moving Into Home Ownership

The Younger Mortgage Market Generation ZAlthough the majority of the Generation Z population make $25,000 or less per year, they really have embraced the American Dream of home ownership. According to a recent survey by Zillow, 97 percent of Gen Z renters asked were confident they will be homeowners in the future, whereas only 55 percent of Millennials were

82 percent of Gen Zers who were renting identified home ownership as the most important component of the American Dream — more than Millennials, even though that group is presently the largest segment of homebuyers, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

So Who Exactly Are Generation Z?

While precise definitions vary, Generation Z are generally known as people born from the late 1990s to early 2000, and they are just beginning to come of age in the housing market. Many currently are renters, but they do not appear content to stay renting for long.  

That could be due to seeing rental prices skyrocketing across the country, or less than ideal rental situations may be a factor — nearly half are living in spaces less than 1,000 square feet, and 82 percent of those Gen Zers share rent with another person, according to MarketWatch.

This Generation Is Bigger Than The Millennials

The Generation Z crowd outnumbers their older Millennial peers by about one million, positioning them to be a force driving the home buying and building market soon. While they are experiencing one of the most competitive housing markets in recent history, that doesn’t seem to phase Gen Zers.

More than 77 percent say they would forgo business ownership in favor of home ownership, and more than 50 percent would be willing to give up social media networking for a year to obtain their dream home, according to a recent Time Magazine survey.

Three in five teens have already begun saving toward their dream home, so while most Gen Zers hope to be homeowners by the age of 28, (three years lower than the national average) they are getting a good start toward meeting that goal. Due to their savvy tech skills and inherent digital nature, Gen Zers are poised to buy homes more efficiently and faster than previous generations of renters.

When navigating the rental market, 33 percent of Gen Z renters are able to find new accommodations in a month or less, probably because they submit more applications per search, at approximately 3.1 applications per property search versus 2.4 for Gen Xers and 2.2 for Baby Boomers, according to a recent Zillow report.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 2nd, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 2nd, 2018  Last week’s economic releases included readings from Case-Shiller, pending home sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.    

Case-Schiller: Home Prices Continue to Rise

According to Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for January, U.S. home prices continued to rise at a rapid pace with the national home price index rising at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.20 percent. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 6.40 percent year-over-year. Seattle, Washington held the top spot with year-over-year home price growth of 12.90 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada reported year-over-year home price growth of 11.20 percent. After a lull in home price growth, San Francisco, California home prices grew by 10.20 percent year-over-year. The only city to lose ground in the 20-City Index was Washington, D.C., which posted a drop of 0.40 percent in January, but posted a year-over-year gain of 2.40 percent.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Dow Jones S&P Indices Committee, said that rapidly rising home prices were all about supply and demand. Growing demand and slim supplies of homes for sale were again cited as the primary reason for rapidly rising home prices. Faced with limited choices and rising mortgage rates, more buyers could be sidelined until demand subsides or inventories of available homes increase.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported slight drops in average mortgage rates last week. 30-year mortgage rates dropped by one basis point to 4.44 percent; 15-year mortgage rates averaged one basis point lower at 3.90 percent, and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also dropped by one basis point to 3.66 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week with 215,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 230,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 227,000 new claims filed.

Consumer Sentiment dipped lower in March with an index reading of 101.4, which fell below expectations of 102.0 and February’s index reading of 102.0.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, and labor-related readings on ADP payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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7 Tips To Plan A Spring Yard ‘Tune-Up’ Before Listing A Home For Sale

7 Tips to Plan a Spring Backyard Tune UpThe oft-repeated maxim that there is never a second chance to make a great first impression is especially true when it comes to real estate. Street appeal may focus on a dramatic approach to the front door, but prospective buyers will be especially “wowed” by an appealing back yard.

Early spring is the perfect time to add some new plants, set out pots of blooming flowers and focus on one memorable feature. A little work now will pay big dividends later, in terms of buyer interest, increased showings, quick offers, and even a higher price.

Here are 7 ideas that are cost-effective weekend projects:

  1. Create a focal point: Find an antique garden trellis and plant some vines to create an arbor. Add a piece of sculpture or statuary either in the center of the yard or in a secluded garden spot. Install a “gate to nowhere” and add bright flowers on one side. Paint giant sunflowers on a privacy fence or on the side of a storage shed. 
  2. Build a partial wall or shade trellis: There is little that’s more appealing that an an “outdoor living room.” Accent and define your patio space in an interesting way — use a sisal rug or paint a graphic design on the concrete — and fill the room with appropriate furniture. Add a small fountain or a charcoal fire pit to create a real gathering spot.
  3. Install a simple drip irrigation system: Minimize landscape upkeep by planning DIY drip irrigation that will keep planting areas looking their best. All that’s really needed is some tubing and a few fittings; the system itself can be attached to an outside hose bibb and operated by a simple timer. It’s not necessary to extend the system to the entire lawn; that would be a more costly and time-consuming project perhaps best left to a professional.
  4. Create a dry creek bed: If parts of the yard or garden are plagued by standing water following heavy rain, give drainage an assist by making a dry creek bed. It’s not too difficult and will add function and beauty to the back yard. Add some large boulders or a “Zen bench” to boost the appeal.
  5. Plant or hang solar lights: Define a pathway, highlight planting areas or just add night-time interest to the yard with solar lighting. Buy inexpensive versions at a home store, or order artistic lights from a catalog. They’re fun, functional and portable.
  6. Plant a specialty garden: Attract butterflies and hummingbirds with a patch of wildflowers. Build a small raised garden plot to grow kitchen herbs, or plant seasonal vegetables and edible flowers. Carrots. kale and rainbow chard are especially pretty and don’t take much space. Melons, squash and pumpkins have beautiful flowers and yield great fruit, but they do spread! 
  7. Clean up, trim, weed and mow: Finally, don’t neglect the routine maintenance that is required in every yard, both front and back. Nothing else is as important to prospective buyers as an attractive, well-kept home exterior. 

 

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A Mortgage Pre-Approval Can Help You In Your Home Purchase Negotiations

A Mortgage Pre-Approval Can Help You In Your Home Purchase NegotiationsA mortgage pre-qualification is an initial estimate of what type and size of mortgage a borrower could get. It is limited, though, because it’s only based on what the borrower tells the lender, which might not be the same as what the lender finds out when it goes through a full process of analyzing the borrower and his credit.

The Initial Loan Pre-Qualification

To get pre-qualified, a borrower starts by finding a lender. Typically, he will give the lender basic information on his ability to borrow. This includes his income, how much money he has in the bank, his current payments and an estimate of his credit worthiness.

The lender takes the pre-qualification information that he gets and compares it to the loan programs of which he is aware. For instance, if he knows that a borrower doesn’t have a lot to put down, but the borrower mentions that he’s active-duty military, the mortgage lender might offer a VA loan as an option.

Based on the programs he sees and the information the mortgage professional gets from the borrower, he will tell the borrower what kind of mortgage to expect.Typically, this gives the borrower a sense of the likely interest rate and of the loan amount he can borrow. Generally, this is enough to let a borrower start looking at real estate listings with a realistic sense of what will be affordable.

The Power of A Mortgage Pre-Approval

When it comes time to start writing offers, though, a mortgage pre-qualification might not be enough. A pre-qualification is missing one important factor — underwriting the borrower’s income and credit.

When a borrower goes beyond a pre-qualification to get a mortgage pre-approval, he submits his credit for the lender to check. That way, his qualifications get confirmed and the lender can issue a more binding letter that not only lets him know what he can afford but also lets him show a seller that he is truly qualified to get a loan.

With that letter, his offer may be viewed as stronger and he can be more likely to get the ability to buy the house he wants.  Talk with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your options before looking at homes.  It may very likely give you a bit more purchasing leverage.

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5 Tips For Prospective Buyers To Submit A Winning Offer

5 Tips For Prospective Buyers To Submit A Winning OfferIn a hot real estate market, agents often tell buyers they must expect to make multiple offers before one is accepted. Disappointment may be the new normal rather than an exception. The stress of repeated rejections isn’t easy, so be prepared.

Significant numbers of first-time buyers find the process difficult, and recent research indicates that about 60 percent of Millennials choose to rent rather than own, delaying other important life decisions, including marriage and family. 

There are, however, at least 5 ways to strengthen your buyer profile and give yourself an advantage: 

Check Your Credit

Take advantage of the free credit checks offered by the three credit reporting agencies, and clean up any questionable entries. At the very least, be prepared to offer clear and cogent reasons for any late payments that appear within the last couple of years. Pay down credit card balances and student loan debt as much as possible, and assure that your employment record is stable. 

Sock Away Some Cash

Try to delay your home search until you have enough money for a reasonable down payment and required closing costs, plus a comfortable nest egg or contingency fund. Demonstrate a consistent savings habit. If you plan to borrow the down payment from parents or other family members, be certain it will be adequate and available when you need it.

Talk With Your Loan Officer

Get a definitive idea of how much you can comfortably afford. If you’re a veteran or qualify for other special loan programs, find out in advance. Gain a comfort level with a lender, and listen to the advice that is offered. Interest rates are currently still low, but any rate change will affect the amount you can borrow. Limit your home search homes priced lower than your loan limit.

The only thing better than a pre-qualification letter is approval confirmation for a specific loan amount. In a fast-paced real estate market, seek that pre-approval, so that you’ll be able to move quickly when you find the right property. A pre-approved loan, an offer with no contingencies, and a quick closing date are the marks of an “A-list” buyer.

Define Your Needs

Know your preferred neighborhoods, and prepare a list of “must have” items as well as a wish list to guide your search. But be realistic. Know that home-buying is a matter of priorities and a game of give and take.

Look at a home’s structure and condition; consider the location, and realize that there is no such thing as the perfect house. Know that tired style can be updated, and decor changes are relatively easy on the pocketbook.  

Make the First Offer Your Best Offer

In a seller’s market, it’s wise to make the initial offer your best offer. A lowball bid will not impress the seller, and you may never get a chance to submit a higher bid. When there is serious competition for homes, it pays to be serious about every offer. 

Finally, know that if you’re persistent and prepared, you will find a home to suit you. Practice patience!

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