Friday, October 30, 2015

Buying in a New Community: How to Meet and Make Friends with Your New Neighbors

Buying in a New Community: How to Meet and Make Friends with Your New NeighborsOne of the stresses of moving to a new area is giving up the familiarity that you have with your old neighbors and starting from scratch. Whether you've just moved to a different locale or you're planning to relocate in the near future, there are some easy ways that you can make a home of your new neighborhood right from the start

Stand Up and Smile

While there are neighborhoods where people are definitely friendlier than others, by making your presence positively known you can make an instant impression on those that live around you. When you're walking around the neighborhood, make sure you use it as an opportunity to engage with your fellow dwellers by throwing a smile in their direction, saying "Good Morning!" or paying attention to their children or their pet. It may not start a conversation right away, but if you see each other a few more times you might soon have a new fast-friend in the neighborhood.

Become a Community Member

If you happen to have a community center specific to your area, it will be even easier to meet the people who live in your neighborhood and make friends with some of them. Look into the offerings of your local center and find some classes or events that appeal to you. Whether it happens to be a craft festival or a fitness class that interests you, this will not only help you meet new people, but will ensure that their interests are aligned with your own so you'll have some new pals to pursue old hobbies with.

Knock on the Door!

This is definitely the most assertive of options, and seems a throwback to another era, but instead of leaving meeting people up to chance, bake a cake or a batch of cookies and take them over to your new neighbor as a gesture of friendship and kindness. Your neighbors will probably love the baked goods, but this can also be the first step in forming a relationship with them that will come to be one you can both rely on.

When it comes to a new neighborhood, forming new attachments can seem all-but impossible, but there are things you can do to begin a bond right from the start. If you're searching for a new neighborhood and are wondering about places to look, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mortgages 101: How to Calculate How Much You Will Need for Your Down Payment

Mortgages 101: How to Calculate How Much You Will Need for Your Down PaymentIf you're planning to buy a home in the near future, you're probably already in the process of saving up for a down payment. But if you haven't seen a mortgage advisor or started looking at properties yet, you probably don't have a good idea of what a down payment will cost you. Different mortgages have different down payment requirements, and you'll need to figure out ahead of time how much of a down payment you need to put forward.

Following are some general guidelines. Be sure to speak with a knowledgeable, local lender to get the best advice for your area.

How can you calculate what you'll need for a down payment?  Here's what you need to know.

Look at What the Lenders Are Asking For

When it comes to down payments, you'll need to take into account what lenders want to see. A lender wants to know that you can afford the home you're planning to buy. That's why a sizable down payment looks great on a mortgage application.

Although you can pay as little as 5 percent down, a 20 percent down payment looks better on paper. It also means you don't have to get private mortgage insurance, which will save you money in the long run on a conventional mortgage.

Use Your Debt-to-Income Ratio as a Guideline

Your debt-to-income ratio is a measurement that you can use to determine what kind of a mortgage you can afford. Your down payment will be subtracted from your total mortgage, and it's your monthly mortgage payment that will determine your debt-to-income ratio.  As a general rule, your non-mortgage housing expenses (or your back end ratio) should probably account for no more than 28 percent of your before-tax income.  With all housing costs included (mortgage or rent, private mortgage insurance, HOA fees, etc.) most lenders are looking for the debt-to-income ratio (the front end ratio) of 36 percent or less.

Lets say for example, you want to get a $300,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years and you expect to make a $25,000 down payment, your monthly mortgage payment will be approximately $916.67. To afford that mortgage payment, you’ll probably need to have a total before-tax household income of around $3273.82 per month. But if you were to increase your down payment to $50,000, your monthly payment decreases to about $833.33 making the debt-to-income ratio lower if you made the same amount of money.

Doing the Math: Down Payment Requirements for Various Specialty Mortgages

Although there are certain laws around how much of a down payment you'll need, in some cases the rules are different. The Veterans Affairs office provides mortgages through private lenders designed specifically for active military service people, veterans, and their spouses. A VA home loan requires zero down payment for loans that are within the maximum conforming loan limit, with a 25% down payment on the difference if you opt to buy a house worth more than the loan limit.

Your down payment size will influence a variety of other factors, like your mortgage terms and whether lenders are willing to give you a mortgage. A mortgage professional can help you understand the nuances of down payments. Check with your trusted mortgage or real estate advisor to learn what will for your particular situation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Case-Shiller: August Home Prices Accelerate

Case-Shiller August Home Prices AccelerateAccording to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, U.S. home prices increased by 0.40 percent in August, which boosted year-over-year home price growth to 5.10 percent. Denver, Colorado continued to lead in home price gains with a monthly increase of 0.90 percent and a year-over-year gain of 10.70 percent. San Francisco, California also posted a year-over-year gain of 10.70 percent, but posted a month-to-month loss of -0.10 percent. Portland, Oregon posted a year-over-year gain of 9.40 percent with a month-to-month gain of 1.10 percent.

Cities with the slowest growing home prices year-over-year included New York City with a reading of 1.80 percent; Chicago, Illinois and Washington D.C. each posted year-over-year gains of 1.90 percent.

Majority of Cities Show Home Price Gains

Before seasonal adjustments, home prices were higher in 18 of 20 cities; after seasonal adjustments, 11 cities had higher home prices, four were unchanged and five cities had lower home prices. After adjustments for inflation, current home price growth approached rates seen in the housing boom of 2005 and 2006, but current home price growth is driven by a slim supply of available homes rather than excessive demand seen during the housing boom.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices for sales of homes related to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 5.50 percent year over year.

New Home Sales Slump in September

Sales of new homes dropped by 11.50 percent in September; this was the lowest level since last November. The drop largely attributed to a steeper than usual drop in home sales in the Northeast, which accounted for 62 percent of slumping home prices. Over the past two years, the Northeast region accounted for 32 percent of declining home sales. Low inventories of available homes and rising home prices contributed to the slump in sales; home builders are working to close the gap between available homes and current demand. September's supply of available homes increased to a 5.80 month supply from August's reading of a 4.90 percent

Analysts said that September's inventory of homes for sale reached its highest level in and a half years and also noted that homes under construction had achieved their highest volume in six and a half years. Although millennials are expected to boost home sales as they begin to start families, some analysts pointed out that the slump in sales coincided with indications that third quarter growth may be weaker than economic growth during the second quarter of 2015.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Seller Stress: Ease the Stress of Selling Your Home with These Three Easy Tips

Seller Stress: Ease the Stress of Selling Your Home with These Three Easy TipsDespite all of the excitement that comes along with moving to a new area or home, it can also be a time of considerable stress. Whether you're just getting prepared to put your house on the market or you've been up to bat for a while and are feeling the effects, here are some pointers for how you can keep your stress level low and your attitude positive.

Queue the Clean-Up!

It may seem like an inopportune time for such a task, but de-cluttering your home can have a positive impact on your mental health. Instead of saving all the cleanup to the last moment when you're trying to get your family out under a deadline, do a bit of a spring-clean. By looking through the items in your bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen - and getting your family involved - you can make the packing up that will come down the road a much more straightforward task.

Maintain an Optimistic Outlook!

This might sound a little obvious, but maintaining a positive attitude towards the sale of your home is one of the key factors in minimizing your stress level. It can be quite easy when you're putting your house on the market to get ahead of yourself and hope that each viewer is a potential buyer, but your house probably won't sell with the first viewing. By maintaining a positive attitude, you can enjoy the last memories you and your family will be making in your home, and think ahead for what you'll have to do when selling time comes.

Move It All Out!

It's not likely that everyone will be able to take advantage of this option, but if you have good friends or close family in the area, you may want to consider moving in with them while your house is for sale so you can be ahead of the game when crunch time comes. While this option may lead to other types of stress, it can severely minimize all of the things you'll have to do when you sell your home since you'll only have to worry about moving in.

There are no certainties when it comes to selling your house stress free, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact it will have on your well-being. If you're wondering about additional ways to keep your stress level low throughout the selling of your home, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professional for more advice.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 26, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 26 2015Last week's economic news included the National Association of Home Builders Index, Housing Starts and FHFA's report on August home sales. The National Association of Realtors® released its monthly report on sales of previously owned homes.

Builder Confidence and Housing Starts Post Gains

The Wells Fargo National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for September posted its highest level of builder confidence in 10 years a higher than expected results with a reading of 64 for October. Analysts expected a reading of 62 based on September's reading of 61.

The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reading is based on three builder confidence readings. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose three points to a reading of 70; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose seven points to 75 and buyer traffic in new housing developments held steady with a reading of 47. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions than those who are not.

This news was consistent with September housing starts, which were also higher. The U.S. Commerce Department reported September's housing starts at an annual level of 1.206 million starts against expectations of 1.139 million starts and August's reading of 1.132 million housing starts.

Sales of Previously Owned Homes Surpass Expectations

September sales of pre-owned homes surpassed expectations according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of previously owned homes reached 5.55 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against an expected reading of 5.34 million sales. August's reading was adjusted downward from 5.31 million sales to 5.30 million sales of previously owned homes.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited lower mortgage rates, higher demand for homes and low inventories of available homes as driving higher sales. Slight easing of mortgage credit standards was also said to be driving home sales.

FHFA's Home Price Index for August showed that home prices for properties associated with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased at a rate of 5.05 percent in August as compared to a growth rate of 5.80 percent year-over-year in August 2014.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims yielded mixed results. Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed rate mortgages dipped with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage three basis points lower at 3.79 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 2.98 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point to 2.89 percent. Average discount points were 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, 0.50 percent for a a5-year fixed rate mortgage and were unchanged at 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Weekly jobless claims were lower than expectations with a reading of 259,000 new claims filed against expectations of 265,000 new jobless claims. New claims were higher than the previous week's reading of 256,000 new claims. Analysts are keeping an eye on jobs reports as stronger job markets are essential to expanding home sales.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller reports on home prices along with reports on new home sales, consumer confidence and consumer sentiment. Core inflation readings will be released Friday after Thursday's releases of Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Second Highest Level in 8 Years

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Second Highest Level in 8 YearsHousing markets show continued strength as the National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of existing homes reached their second highest level since February 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes increased by 4.70 percent and reached 5.55 million sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against analyst expectations of 5.34 million sales and August's reading of 5.30 million sales of previously owned homes.

August's reading for existing home sales was revised downward from 5.31 million sales. Economists said that August's lower than expected sales of existing homes may have been influenced by volatility in financial markets and concerns over mortgage rates may have kept would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but September's reading showed that August's dismal readings were an aberration rather than a trend.

Higher Home Sales Driven by Low Mortgage Rates

Low mortgage rates are making homes more affordable, a fact that's reflected by current inventories of available homes. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.8 month supply of available homes as compared to September 2014's reading of a 5.40 month supply of available homes.

In addition to average mortgage rates hovering below four percent, industry advocates s cited stronger job markets and also indicated that a slight easing of mortgage credit standards are driving home sales. Increased demand for homes is causing home prices to rise. The national average price of a home rose to $221,900, which was 6.10 percent higher than for September 2014.

Housing Recovery: 2015 Could Show Best Results Since 2007

Lawrence Yun Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that although some economists expect home sales to cool down before the end of 2015, it's possible that 2015 will end with the best home sales figures since 2007. Mr. Yun said characterized the housing recovery as "a slow steady process" and said "This year, it's finally coming out."

On the other hand, some analysts are skeptical about how housing markets can maintain their momentum into 2016. First-time buyers are losing market share in home sales, with their participation rate decreasing from 32 percent in August to 29 percent in September. First-time buyers play an integral role in housing markets, as their purchase of starter homes allows first-time homeowners to buy larger homes. First-time buyers also represent new demand for homes, which is essential to expanding housing markets.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Squeezing a Seller: 3 Tips to Help Bring a Seller's Price Down to Fit Your Budget

Squeezing a Seller: 3 Tips to Help Bring a Seller's Price Down to Fit Your BudgetIf you've been searching the real estate market for a while and you've finally come across a home that you love, it's possible you may be ready to pounce at any price. However, if you're hoping to bring the seller's price down for a deal that's closer to what you want to spend, here are some ways you may be able to have your home and pay the right price too.

Get Some Background on the Sale

It's important to realize that by understanding the motivation of the seller, you'll be better able to give them the kind of deal they're looking for. So, instead of going into it blind, ask questions to try and determine why the home is on the market. If the motivation happens to be time-related, and the current owners are moving to a new city or have purchased another home, you may have some leeway in terms of what you're offering. By knowing the motivation ahead of time, you'll be able to better align your offer with the seller's expectations

Research the Surrounding Market

This will definitely be something that a real estate agent should help you with, but utilizing a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) will enable you to determine the sale price of houses in the area and should give you an idea of what constitutes a reasonable offer. While it's important that this compendium is made up only of properties that have successfully sold in the local neighborhood, this can easily reveal if the seller's price is standard and should give you insight into what the limitations in your offering price should be.

Consider a Quicker Close

It can seem like real estate all comes down to price, but there are a number of things you may be able to offer the home seller that may make them seriously consider a lower offer than they were hoping for. Instead of thinking only in terms of price, you may want to suggest a closing date that is sooner than usual; in the event that they've already purchased a home this will work out better for them in terms of cost savings and may make up for a difference on price.

If you've found your ideal home after viewing a lot of houses and you're wondering how you can make it a better deal, you may score a lower price by being aware of a seller's motivations or offering a quicker closing date. If you're curious about other tips for real estate success, you should contact your trusted real estate agent for more information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Can You Give a Relative a Gift of Cash for a Mortgage Down Payment? Yes - Here's How

Can You Give a Relative a Gift of Cash for a Mortgage Down Payment? Yes – Here’s HowA new house is a major investment. Even if you have a mortgage, the bank and the seller will still expect a sizable down payment. That's why lots of people regularly gift down payments to friends and relatives - it's a great way to help young people start out on the path of home ownership.

But what are the rules around gifting down payments? Can you simply give someone everything they need? Although it's a generous thought, it's not always possible - here's what you need to know.

Make Sure You Write a Gift Letter

If you're giving one of your relatives money for a down payment, you'll need to accompany the money with a gift letter. A gift letter is a letter written to the mortgage company that clearly asserts the money is a gift, not a loan. There are several key components that mortgage companies need to see on a gift letter, so make sure you have everything they need.

You'll need to include your name, address, and phone number, as well as your relationship to the homeowner and the amount of the gift. Your letter should list the date on which you gifted the money and clearly explain that you do not expect to be repaid. Finally, you'll need to include the address of the property being purchased and then sign the letter.

Tell Your Relatives to Pay the Right Down Payment Amount

When your relatives give their down payment, they'll want to ensure they pay the right amount from their own money to ensure they don't run afoul of any mortgage laws. In a conventional mortgage agreement, the borrower can pay the entire down payment with a gift if their down payment is worth at least 20% of the purchase price. If the down payment is for less than 20%, then the borrower can use gift money, but must also put forward a certain minimum amount that varies by loan type. For mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veteran Affairs, the rules are slightly different.

Giving the gift of a mortgage is a great way to help friends or family members become homeowners. But with mortgages, there are strict rules around gifts. Contact your trusted real estate professional or mortgage officer to learn more about giving the gift of a mortgage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Don't Fear the Last Minute Home Showing - Here's How You Can Impress Potential Buyers

Don't Fear the 'Last Minute' Home Showing! Here's How You Can Impress Potential BuyersThe idea of impressing potential buyers can be a matter rife with stress, but there are a few things you can do before a viewing to ensure your home is seen in the best light. If you've recently put your house on the market and you're looking for some fast and easy fix-ups, here are a handful of ways you can be sure to create a positive first impression.

It's All About the Smell

It may seem like purchasing a home is all about appearance, but you shouldn't underestimate the power of scent when it comes to the overall impact of your home viewing. Instead of leaving this invisible factor up to chance, consider giving the house a quick light spray with a pleasant scent or even baking something that will be sure to remind potential buyers of the familiar comforts of home. Make sure you dont over do it though, having too much sent may make potential buyers uncomfortable or even sick.

Take Away the Family Portraits

While it won't be necessary to clear away everything of personal value, a large number of photographs in the home can actually remind potential homebuyers that it's not their home and may make them feel like they're a visitor in a place they want to live. By removing the photos that adorn the fridge and the side tables, you can eliminate distractions for potential homebuyers and keep them focused on what the home might come to mean for them.

Clear Away Any Clutter

This might seem like the most common sense of points, but it's very important that your house is clean so that viewers can see your home in its best light and will easily be able to imagine themselves living in it. While it's important for giving your house the best possible presentation, it will also make your house look more spacious than it would with a lot of unkempt clutter.

Highlight Your Favorite Features

With potential homebuyers viewing a lot of different houses, having a few key features in your home that will help it stand out from the pack can be a definite benefit. Whether you have a fabulous Jacuzzi in the master bathroom or unique kitchen tiles that you installed yourself, ensuring that these features are noticed, and even accentuated, may help your home stick in the mind of its viewers.

Showing your home can be a stressful matter, but a few quick tips can ensure success with potential buyers. If you're curious about other ways to impress viewers of your home, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professional for some valuable insights.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 19, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 19 2015Last week's economic reports included Consumer Price Index and Core index for September, the minutes of the FOMC meeting held September 15 and 17, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

FOMC Minutes Hint at Looming Rate Hike as Inflation Lags

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September suggest that while Fed policy makers have reservations about low inflation and labor markets, they may go ahead and raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as loan rates on products such as personal loans and credit cards. FOMC members also expressed concerns over lagging inflation below the FOMC benchmark of 2.00 percent.

September's Core Consumer Price Index report showed a slight reduction as consumer prices fell by -0.20 percent which matched analyst's expectations and was lower than August's reading of -0.10 percent. The reduction in consumer prices was caused by falling fuel prices. The Core Consumer Price Index for September, which does not include readings for energy or food prices, rose by -0.20 percent which exceeded predictions of an 0.10 percent increase and August's reading of +0.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates rose while rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 3.82 percent while the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.03 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.88 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 255,000 against expectations of 270,000 and the prior week' reading of 262,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims fell by 2250 new jobless claims and reached its lowest level since 1973.

In other jobs-related news, job openings fell from July's reading of 5.70 million to 5.40 million in August. The Labor Department also reported that the hiring rate and quit rates held steady at 3.60 percent and 1.90 percent.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news releases include The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, September Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

Friday, October 16, 2015

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Renovation List

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Reno ListWhether you're planning on selling your home soon or you want to do a few minor renovations for your own enjoyment, an ailing hardwood floor may be on your list of things to tackle. While this can be a more difficult renovation to complete than many other household items, here are five reasons you may want to move it to the top of the list.

An Issue with Structure

If there happens to be any glaring structural issues with your hardwood, a complete do-over will be a necessity if you want to sell your house in the future. While this will likely involve fixing the sub-floor under your hardwood, this will dramatically improve the overall health of your home.

Experiencing a Lot of Movement?

A lot of movement in your hardwood floor can be a sign that it's time for a fix up. If you're already planning on refinishing your floor for an instantly improved look, this fix-up will need to happen before you can take that necessary next step!

Worn-Out or Over-Sanded Wood

Whether your boards are worn down in spots from excessive use or sanding, this is an issue that will instantly age the look of your living space. If you're noticing the boards coming apart at the ends or nails jutting out, it's definitely time for an overhaul.

Upping a Home's Market Value

There may be a few things a homebuyer will be willing to fix in a new home, but flooring is unlikely to be something they will want to replace right off the bat. By upgrading this before it's an issue, you can easily make your home a lot more attractive to potential buyers.

It's an Instant Facelift

There are few things that will be as apparent as the look of the floor when entering a room, so having dull, scratched hardwood will instantly downgrade the appearance of your living space. If more than expected wear and tear has occurred, an updated floor can completely shift the look of your place!

If you're planning on tackling home renovations soon and are not sure where to begin, you may want to assess the quality of life left in your hardwood floors. As this will have a marked impact on the way your home appears, fixing your floors can help to improve the market value of your home. If you're wondering about other renovation upgrades that will appeal to buyers, contact me for more information.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Much Should You Budget for Closing Costs? Let's Take a Look

How Much Should You Budget for Closing Costs? Let's Take a LookIf you're in the market for a new home, you're probably trying to budget for all of the expenses that come with a home purchase. After all, the asking price isn't necessarily the entire amount that you'll pay - there are other expenses that will factor in to the final price. One such expense is your closing costs.

Closing costs are the miscellaneous fees you'll pay when you sign the deal to buy your home. But how much do you need to save up for closing costs? Here's what you need to know.

The General Guideline for What to Expect

Most mortgage advisers will tell you that you should expect to pay about 3 to 5 percent of your mortgage in closing costs. By law, your mortgage provider is obligated to give you a Good Faith Estimate of what your closing costs will be. Some lenders, though, will deliberately low-ball the estimate in order to have you sign the mortgage papers, only for you to discover that the actual expenses are much higher.

How Your Closing Costs Break Down

You'll want to get estimates from several different lenders and compare the costs before signing a mortgage agreement. Your lender will give you a breakdown of costs in your Good Faith Estimate. But in general, there are certain closing costs you can expect to pay.

One cost that almost every lender includes is the loan origination fee, a small charge to compensate the lender for the time it takes to prepare the initial loan documents. This fee typically runs about 1 percent of the amount borrowed. There's also a loan application fee, which will typically cost between $75 and $400.

You'll be expected to pay your attorney fees as well as the lender's attorney fees, along with the cost of a credit check. Your lender may require you to get private mortgage insurance, which can cost up to $1750. The title search and title insurance to protect your lender from title fraud will cost approximately $500, and you'll also want to buy title insurance to protect yourself.

There are also several other closing costs to keep in mind, like escrow fees, notary fees, pest inspections, underwriting fees, and the mortgage broker's commission. All in all, you'll want to budget $5,000 in closing costs for every $100,000 you borrow.

Closing costs can be quite expensive, which is why you'll want to make sure you budget appropriately when you buy your new home. A real estate professional help you to figure out how much you need to budget for closing costs. Call your local real estate agent today to learn more about the home buying process.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Do You Regret Turning Down an Offer? How to Reopen Talks with a Potential Home Buyer

Do You Regret Turning Down an Offer? How to Reopen Talks with a Potential Home BuyerThe real estate market is in a state of constant flux, and if your home has been for sale a little while you may feel vulnerable if you've recently rejected an offer. If you're starting to change your tune on what you want and you're wondering how you can re-make a deal, here are a few pointers for how to approach a new negotiation.

Did You Do a Follow-Up Call?

One of the rules for selling your home is to follow-up with all potential buyers as a matter of courtesy, whether you've accepted their offer on your home or not. If you've done this with a potential buyer you want to re-negotiate with, then you're in a good position to contact them. Whether you choose to do this directly with the buyer or through your real estate agent, make sure that you know exactly what you want to say so the second time around can be more promising for both parties.

Re-Consider the Buyer's Point of View

If you're contemplating a former offer, looking at the way the buyer sees things may help you come to more of a consensus in terms of price. While you've paid for your property, and you're aware of all that you've invested into it, a buyer may be looking simply at the going price of other properties in the area. By re-considering the market value in your area and being clear on the buyer's concerns regarding your price-point, it's possible you may be able to meet somewhere closer to the middle when it comes to a renegotiated price.

Be Prepared to Change Your Tune

You likely won't be able to successfully negotiate anything with your potential buyer unless you and your family re-consider your asking price. While re-negotiating an offer that seems unfair certainly isn't something worth stressing over, you'll want to think about what the additional money you might be making is worth and if the difference is going to make up for potentially having your house on the market for a few more weeks or months. If it's worth it to you to re-negotiate, you may just have home sale on your hands in short order.

Selling a home can be a matter of significant stress, and missing out on an offer can add even more difficulty to the proverbial pile. Whether you're wondering how you can renegotiate an old offer or successfully sell your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 13 2015Last week's economic reports included the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting Minutes and Weekly Jobless Claims. Also, the new mortgage TRID rules went into effect. Here are the details:

TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure) Goes Into Effect

TRID, or TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, which is also known as the "Know Before You Owe" rule will change the mortgage process by altering some standard loan forms and practices. Originally slated to go into effect August 1, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) actually took effect on October 3.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, the House of Representatives approved HR 3192, "The Homebuyers Assistance Act", which would provide a safe harbor for lenders who act in good faith to comply with the new TRID mortgage disclosure requirements. The bill will still need to be passed by the US Senate and signed by the President in order to become law.

Home buyers can expect to be using two new forms under TRID — the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. These two new loan forms are easier to understand and consolidate the earlier standard forms. The forms are also designed to work in combination with each other, which wasn't happening with the previous forms.

The new forms clearly detail the loan amount, its terms, whether the amount can increase after closing for each section, and the feature of the loan, such as whether there is an early payment penalty or not.

The forms are designed to provide the buyer with more time to review the costs associated with the mortgage. The Loan Estimate document is due to the buyer three days after applying for the loan, while the Closing Disclosure must be presented three days before closing.

The CFPB has offered a special guide for real estate professionals.

Real Estate Professionals Guide (

Mortgage Rates Tick Downward

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped lower to 3.76 percent from 3.85 percent the previous week; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also lower at 2.99 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at an average rate of 2.88 percent. Average discount points for both fixed rate products was.6 percent while the discount points for the adjustable product was.2 percent.

Jobless Claims Fall To 42-Year Low

New unemployment claims dropped to 263,000 against expectations of 271,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. Some experts argued that the drop may have had to due with seasonal employment trends. The U.S. labor-force participation rate was reported at a 38-year low at 62.4 percent in September.

Friday, October 9, 2015

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your Home

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your HomeWith the season of jack-o-lanterns and crunchy leaves under foot, there can't help but be plenty of ways to integrate the loveliness of autumn into your home decorations. Whether you're looking for a simple touch or a statement that will completely define a room, here are a few ideas for highlighting the best the fall has to offer

Showcase a Seasonal Bouquet

A vase full of flowers can add a lot to any room in the house, but a great way to integrate the season outside with your home is to make a bouquet that will utilize the best of fall's vegetation. Instead of opting for the usual bright colors, gather an array of colored leaves that strike your fancy and add a collection of branches to a vase that suits the purpose. If arranged right, this can be a striking and unique embellishment to your front entrance.

Carve Out a Candle Holder

An easy way to join the cooler weather with your inside atmosphere is to utilize the help of the season's most familiar vegetable, the pumpkin. Instead of going for the typical Halloween carving, cut the top off of a small pumpkin, clear away all of the seeds and let it dry out. Once this is complete, you can put a candle in the pumpkin, and create a unique lighting look for your home. If you like it enough, you may want to consider doing it with several pumpkins for an even more festive display.

A Falling Light Fixture

Instead of making something from scratch, you might want to consider using the pieces you have in your home and switching them up to complement the changing season. If you happen to have a chandelier in your dining room and you also have kids who like to craft, have them put together some papier-mâché leaves and pumpkins so you can hang them decoratively from the chandelier. While this is a look that will take more work, it will be a particularly striking way to illuminate your chandelier – and your dining area!

Adding some fall inspiration into the mix for your home decorating can be a great way to better enjoy the season and have some fun with your family. From a festive chandelier to a striking autumn bouquet, there are plenty of ways to become crafty for the fair season. If autumn is making you contemplate your neighborhood and your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Worried About Mortgage Rates Going Up? Steps to Prepare Yourself Financially

Worried About Mortgage Rates Going Up? 3 Steps to Prepare Yourself FinanciallyMortgage rates have been at record lows for quite some time, making it easy for new homebuyers to finance their dream homes. But what comes down will eventually go back up, and with the world economy expected to rebound in 2016, we're about to start seeing more expensive mortgages.

So what can you do to prepare yourself before mortgage rates start to rise? Here are some strategies that will keep you ahead of the game.

Start Saving More Money Now

If you have a variable rate mortgage, you've benefited from great interest rates that this world won't see again for quite some time. Hopefully, you've taken advantage of this low-interest period to save up some cash. If so, you're going to be in a great position for when interest rates rise – and if not, you'll want to start saving as much as you can now to ensure you can weather the storm.

It's far easier to save money now, with interest rates low, than it will be when your mortgage payment starts to rise. So start squirreling away as much of your paycheck as you can.

Pay Down as Much of Your Principal as Possible

Another great way to prepare for the rise in interest rates is to pay down your principal amount. The total amount of interest you'll pay goes up when rates go up, but by paying down your principal, you can take a big bite out of your debt before it has a chance to snowball. So pay down as much of your principal as you can afford – it's easier to pay down interest on a smaller principal amount.

Switch to a Fixed Rate Mortgage

One of the best ways to take advantage of low rates and ensure you get a great deal is to switch your floating rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage. Locking in your low interest rate with a fixed rate mortgage means you'll pay less interest over the term of the loan, but it also means you'll only have a set amount of time to pay your mortgage in full. If you're in a position to predict when you can pay back your mortgage, you'll save a lot of money by locking in your low rate.

Move to a Smaller More Affordable Home

If the home that you have now is just too much for you, you may consider downsizing. Moving from a large home into a smaller house or condo has not only the benefits of a smaller mortgage and more flexibility, it can also offer a lower utility bill and less cleaning. Downsizing can be stressful, but with a solid plan  you can transition to a smaller home and and save a good amount. If you are considering this option, contact your trusted real estate agent for more information on what would work best for your situation.

Mortgage rates haven't been this low in a long time, and likely won't be this low again for many years to come. That's why, if you're a homeowner, you'll want to do everything you can to prepare for higher interest rates before they get here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying a Condo in a Ski Resort Area Can Be a Great Investment

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying a Condo in a Ski Resort Area Can Be a Great InvestmentThe decision to invest in real estate can be one rife with risk, but if you're ready to take this type of step into the investment market, you might be wondering where to begin. While upcoming neighborhoods and university areas may always be a place where investment is a viable idea, here are some reasons it can be a boon to consider a resort condo.

A Reliable Influx of Visitors

The great thing about having a condo close to a resort is that, no matter the weather, people will be getting away in the summer and the winter for some vacation relaxation. While you'll certainly notice a more significant influx of visitors to a ski resort when winter rolls around, there will still be heavy crowds for the summer months when people want to escape from the city. Renting a condo in a resort can seem like a risk in the off-season, but there are many months out of the year that you can garner a cash flow that will make up the difference

Maximizing Your Rental Earnings

An investment property in a trendy neighborhood or next to an educational institution will probably always be a popular renter]s area, but being a landlord for a resort property can have its own special perks. With the high season comes the push and pull of supply and demand, and this means you'll be in a position to offer your property at a significantly higher rate. By keeping your rent reasonable but respectable, you should be able to quickly make up for the cost of initial investment.

It's An Extra Vacation Property

While this might not work for the investment angle, having a condo at a popular resort may help with the cost savings that can come from not spending money at vacation time. Instead of going to far flung places and splurging on expensive hotel rooms, a resort condo property will mean that you can save on accommodation and still enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family and friends. If your vacation happens to occur during the resort's downtime, it's even better since you won't miss out on improved rental earnings.

While investing in real estate is not risk-proof, buying into a resort condo can be a great way to enjoy a vacation pad and still make money in the high season at the same time. If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of investment properties, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Locked in a Bidding War? 3 Tactics That Will Ensure That You Reign Supreme with a Winning Bid

Locked in a Bidding War? 3 Tactics That Will Ensure That You Reign Supreme with a Winning BidBidding wars can be ugly, nasty things - but with the right tactics, you can come out a winner without having to double your offer. Welcome to basic training - today, you'll learn how to navigate the obstacle course that is a real estate bidding war and come out on top. Put these three strategies to use and you'll easily win the home of your dreams.

Offer To Pay The Deposit In Cash

It's not usually wise to make a down payment in cash, but paying cash for the deposit is a brilliant strategy that will put you first in line for your new house. One major reason why homes don't sell is because the buyer didn't get approved for financing - and that inconveniences the seller. Paying your deposit in cash proves your reliability to the seller, and it means the seller gets paid faster.

Add A Personal Touch With A Letter

Want to get a completely unfair advantage over other buyers in your neighborhood? Make your offer personal by writing the sellers a heartfelt letter. Marketing professionals know that emotional experiences are highly persuasive, and a personalized hand-written letter shows that you care.

For maximum effect, do a quick Google search on the sellers and look for common threads. Do the sellers have a child in college? Talk to them about your college-aged son or daughter and what program they're taking - it may sound cliché, but a little bit of bonding really does go a long way.

"Escalate" The Situation With An Escalation Clause

When most buyers write up their formal offer, they simply name a price and that's it. But you can set yourself apart from other potential buyers by including an escalation clause in your offer.

An escalation clause is a piece of a real estate contract that increases your offer in the event that you get outbid. An escalation clause usually lists your original offer, the amount by which you're willing to beat other bids if you get outbid, and the maximum amount you're willing to offer in the event that there are multiple offers. Escalation clauses are usually best used when you know that there will be a one-day review of all offers or when you're anticipating multiple offers - otherwise it may compromise later negotiations.

Bidding wars aren't ideal, but they are a reality of the real estate market - especially in competitive areas where it's the norm to see multiple offers on a house. But with these tactics, you can outgun competing bidders and come out with the house you've always wanted. Contact your trusted real estate professional to learn more about navigating a bidding war and making a winning offer.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 05, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 05 2015Last week's economic reports included Pending Home Sales, Construction Spending and several reports on jobs and employment. The details:

Pending Home Sales Down as Home Prices Ris

Pending home sales dipped in August, which is consistent with the waning spring and summer peak sales period for homes. Pending home sales were down by -1.40 percent as compared to July's gain of 0.50 percent. Pending home sales indicate future closings and mortgage loan volume.

Home prices rose in July according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which reported that home prices for the 20-City Home Price Index rose from June's reading of 4.90 percent in June to 5.00 in July. Higher home prices contribute to falling home sales as fewer buyers can afford to enter the market.

Construction spending increased in August to a reading of 0.70 percent as compared to expectations of 0.60 percent growth and July's reading of 0.40 percent growth. Builder confidence readings suggest how builders view housing market conditions and can ultimately impact housing supplies and markets.

Mortgage Rates Tick Downward

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 3.85 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 3.07 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at an average rate of 2.91 percent. Average discount points were mixed at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

New Jobless Claims Rise; Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

New unemployment claims increased to 277,000 against expectations of 271,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 267,000 new jobless claims. The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.10 percent, which supports analysts' preference for using monthly data as opposed to volatile weekly readings for identifying and tracking economic trends.

ADP Payrolls reported 200,000 private sector jobs added in September as compared to August's reading of 186,000 new private sector jobs added. The Commerce Department reported that Non-farm Payrolls grew by 142,000 jobs in September as compared to expectations of 200,000 new jobs and August's reading of 136,000 jobs added.

What's Ahead This week's scheduled economic reports include release the minutes of the recent FOMC meeting along with weekly releases of new jobless claims data and Freddie Mac's mortgage rates.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the Home

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the HomeWith the impact we have on our environment becoming a matter of greater concern, it's becoming more important for the average citizen to know they're doing their part. While there are many simple tricks for saving water that will make you feel better about your environmental footprint, here are a few easy upgrades that will make that saving a little more automatic.

Consider a Cistern Device

With outhouses a thing of the past, flushing the toilet has become one of the ways in which household water is being overused the most, but flushing less simply isn't a viable option. Instead of wasting water in this way, purchase a displacement device and place it in your toilet's cistern. Without you having to do anything at all, it will instantly reduce the volume of water that is used with each flush.

Learn to Work a Water Meter

It's ideal to help the environment by saving water, but it's even better if you can save yourself money at the same time. If you happen to be among those who pay for their water, installing a water meter will enable you to take a closer look at where your water use is going, and can assist you in helping to trim down this expense.

Drain It From the Rain

In the event of an intense downpour, there's often a lot of water that runs off into the gutter and can't be absorbed by the grass or the trees. Instead of letting it go to waste, install a water butt to your drainpipe so that you can use the runoff when it's dry outside to water your plants or even wash your car. There's no reason that any of the moisture from a good rainfall should have to go to waste.

Invest in Water Efficient Items

From shower heads to washing machines, going energy efficient with your household appliances is becoming quite popular. The next time you have to replace a small appliance or there's a leak with a household item, consider heading down to the drugstore to look for environmentally friendly options that will instantly reduce your footprint.

With so many options for environmentally friendly items on the market these days, there's no reason you can't save water at home with a few easy changes. From making use of the rain that falls to learning to work with a water meter, some simple shifts may make your house the most environmentally friendly one on the block.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

4 Tips on How to Increase the Number of Offers You Get In Slower Markets

4 Tips on How to Increase the Number of Offers You Get In Slower MarketsSelling a house in a slow market is like playing the world's worst waiting game. But for sellers who want to make a deal quickly, there are ways to boost your offers and close a bid in short order – even if the market isn't that hot. If you're struggling to sell your home, try these four strategies to boost buyer interest and start bringing in offers.

Choose An Agent With Strong Marketing Skills In a slow market, your choice of real estate agent may make or break the sale. When there simply aren't that many people looking for homes, you'll need to make a strong case for why your home is the ideal choice. And that means you need a great marketing campaign.

Look for an agent that has a marketing presence and appears to keep their ear to the ground when it comes to the real estate world.

The right agent can implement a great marketing strategy to line up buyers all the way down the street.

Invest In Great Staging And Curb Appeal

In a slow market, you need to offer as much value as you can – and that means making your home look amazing. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your décor, while a professional staging can make your home more appealing to potential buyers. You can quickly boost your curb appeal by painting your door, installing some outdoor light fixtures, or adding pieces of outdoor art like birdbaths and sculptures.

Price Your Home Around The Median

Of course you want to get the highest price you can for your home, but keep in mind that in a slow market, there's a limit to how much you can reasonably ask for. Overpriced houses tend to sit on the market for quite a while, so talk with your real estate agent to see whether your home is overpriced. Ideally, your home should be around the median figure of what's considered fair market value.

No Immediate Interest? Cut The Price Sooner Rather Than Later

Even if you've done everything right, you may not see immediate interest in your home – and if that's the case, you'll want to address the problem sooner rather than later. The longer a house sits on the market, the less likely it is to sell, as people may start to think there's something wrong with the house. If you're starting to come up on the average sale time without any offers, talk to your agent about cutting the price.

Selling your home in a slow market isn't easy, but it is possible. With the right strategy, you can bring in the offers and find a buyer. Contact your local trusted real estate agent to learn more about selling your home.