Friday, September 22, 2017
Are you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?
Let's take a quick look at the difference between being 'prequalified' and 'preapproved' for mortgage financing.
The Process Starts With Prequalification
The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income, and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.
Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There's no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don't get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.
Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set
Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.
Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand
Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all of your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and pre-approval process will go.
Have you found the home of your dreams? Contact your local real estate professional to get started.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Is it time to move on from your house, townhouse or condo? If a sale is in your near future, you will want to start looking for a professional selling agent or broker to help manage the process. Let's take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the best real estate agent to handle your home sale.
Check Your Social Network
The easiest place to start is your social network, as almost everyone knows a great real estate agent. Get a post up on Facebook sharing that you are about to sell your home and you're looking for the very best agent to help you sell it. Maybe an old high school acquaintance or college friend is now in the real estate business and can help.
Ask Your Friends And Family For Referrals
If you aren't close with a trustworthy real estate agent, the next best people to ask are your local friends and family. It is unlikely that you're going to get a bad referral from your best friend, brother or aunt. Send out a few text messages and make a few calls to let the family know that you're hunting for a great real estate agent. Soon enough, you'll have some recommendations.
Check Their Designations And Specialties
You might not know this, but real estate agents have specialties and designations available to certify in. Aside from becoming a REALTOR®, your agent may be a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer's Representative, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and more.
Be Sure To Read Reviews And Talk To Past Clients
When you've made a short list of your final choices for a selling agent, it's time to check on their recent work. Ask the agent for a list of houses or other properties that they've sold recently. If possible, you'll also want to socialize with some of their past clients to see what the agent is like. You'll be working closely together for at least a couple of weeks, so it's important that you choose a real estate professional that you're comfortable with.
Selling your home is not a painful process, but it's one where you'll want to have the best agent working to protect your interests. If you're thinking about making a move, contact your local real estate professional.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Home builders had less confidence in housing market conditions in September. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, builders worried that ongoing shortages of construction labor and materials would worsen. NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said that concerns over labor and building materials were "intensified," but said that builder confidence was expected to return to high readings once rebuilding is underway.
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped three points to an index reading of 64 with all three component readings lower than they were in August. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes dipped for points to an index reading of 70. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months also dropped points to 74. September's reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments was one point lower at 47.
Construction Labor and Materials Shortages Expected to Worsen
Home builders have cited shortages of labor and building materials in recent years, but these shortages are expected to grow in coming months due to massive amounts of construction workers needed for rebuilding after severe storm damage and flooding wiped out homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As with the high demand for homes caused by low inventories of homes for sale, labor and materials costs will likely rise as rebuilding begins
The NAHB Housing Market Index measures builder confidence on a scale of 0 to 100. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer consider housing market conditions to be in positive territory. While September readings are well within positive territory, approaching winter weather and shortages may cause builder confidence in housing market conditions to decrease.
Regional Builder Confidence Readings Mixed
Three-month rolling average readings for four regions tracked by NAHB had missed results in September. The Northeast posted a one-point gain to 49; the Midwest posted a loss of three points for a reading of 63 and the Southern region posted a one-point loss for a reading of 66. The West posted a two-point gain for a reading of 77.
Future builder confidence readings depend on conditions as storm season continues and winter weather sets in.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Are you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today's blog post we'll share five great reasons why you'll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.
Your Home Will Look Amazing
Let's face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.
They're Much Easier To Keep Clean
Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won't absorb liquids and solids won't leave a mess.
They're A Great Equity-Building Investment
Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.
They Last Longer Than Carpets
The next time you are over at a friend's house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won't require a full "rip and replace."
Your Allergies Will Thank You
Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.
These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. When you're ready to sell, or if you're in the market for a great new home, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Last week's economic readings release included reports on inflation, core inflation retail sales and retail sales excluding autos. Consumer sentiment, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also reported.
Inflation Exceeds Expectations, Retail Sales Lag
Consumer prices rose 0.40 percent in August, which surpassed expectations of 0.30 percent growth and July's reading of 0.10 percent. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, matched expectations with a reading of 0.20 percent growth and exceeded July's growth of 0.10 percent.
August retail sales fell to -0.20 percent against expectations of no change from July's reading of 0.30 percent.
Retail sales excluding auto sales grew by 0.20 percent, which was lower than expected growth of 0.40 percent, which was based on July's growth rate of 0.40 percent.
Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Weekly Jobless Claims Dip
Freddie Mac reported no change for averaged fixed mortgage rates; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.78 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.08 percent and was also unchanged from last week's reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The readings for fixed rate mortgages were the lowest in 2017, and provided an ongoing incentive for home shoppers who continued to face high home prices and slim inventories of homes for sale.
New jobless claims were lower at 284,000 new claims filed than last week and were also lower than the expected reading of 300,000 first-time jobless claims The prior week's reading reported 297,000 first-time jobless claims.
This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on home builder sentiment, existing home sales, housing starts and building permits issued. The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today's post, we'll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let's get started!
Title Insurance Costs
You're almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you'll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.
Mortgage Underwriting Fees
Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there's an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the 'origination fee' or included within it.
The Closing Fee
As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final 'closing' of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.
Legal And Attorney's Fees
Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you'll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.
Other Miscellaneous Costs
Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.
While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won't even notice most of these fees. For more information about the mortgage process, contact your local real estate professional today. We're happy to help.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Are you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let's take a quick look at three great reasons why you won't want to handle the sale yourself.
You Won't Save As Much As You Think
Let's start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It's true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn't going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you're paying commission is that you're contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you'll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house.
So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you're going to be burning a lot of your time. If you're already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more in the long run.
A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus
Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor's? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is "above average," which is of course statistically impossible.
When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent's objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving.
Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales
Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you're going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it's likely that your home is not the only one they're viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner.
These are just a few of the reasons you won't want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact your local real estate professional today.