Why Should One Consider Refinancing Their Mortgage Now?

Why Should One Consider Refinancing Their Mortgage Now?Refinancing a mortgage is a golden opportunity to lock in today’s low interest rate for the next 15 or 30 years. While interest rates now are still low, there’s a good chance they may be heading up in the coming months.

The Fed may not maintain the current bond purchasing level forever, and any changes that the Fed makes will likely affect mortgage interest rate levels.

As interest rates remain near low for 30 and 15 year mortgages, homeowners can benefit greatly from a refinance. Several types of people in particular should consider refinancing.

Carrying a high rate

Anyone with an interest rate well above today’s level should think about a refinance. Unless the homeowner is planning to sell within the next few years, a refinance will almost always save money in the long run if the rate can be lowered by at least a percent.

Switching from FHA to conventional

Given that FHA mortgages now carry mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan, it makes a lot of sense for borrowers to switch away from them when they can. Refinancing may be possible once the homeowner has built up enough equity to qualify for a mortgage from a traditional lender, without the burden of mortgage insurance.

ARM coming up on adjustment

The low rate of an adjustable rate mortgage may not stay low beyond the first few years of the mortgage. After this point, the rate adjusts each year based on market trends. Rather than paying the adjusted rate, which is almost always higher, homeowners can refinance into a new fixed rate mortgage to lock in one of today’s low fixed rates for the duration of the mortgage.

Cash out to consolidate debt

Homeowners carrying high-interest debt, like credit cards and personal loans, can often benefit from consolidating it into their mortgage. As long as they maintain at least 20 percent equity in their home, they can get a cash-out refinance for an amount higher than their current mortgage balance. They can then use the difference to pay off high-interest debt.

Recently Inherited a Home That You Don’t Need? Here’s How to Get It Sold Without Too Much Stress

Recently Inherited a Home That You Don't Need? Here's How to Get It Sold Without Too Much StressHas a loved one or family member recently passed on and left you with their home? Inheriting a house can be a delightful gift, but it can also present a significant number of challenges that you must navigate.

Let’s explore how to deal with an inherited house and, should you decide to, how to sell it without incurring too much stress.

Are Emotions Involved?

The death of a family member or other loved one can be a trying time emotionally. Depending on how the deceased left the property, you may also have to deal with cleaning out personal belongings and reviving old memories. A battle over a will or the proceeds of an estate can compound the situation, making things worse.

If you are emotionally involved, it is best to work with a real estate agent who can do much of the heavy lifting. That way you can focus on supporting your family and keeping your stress levels down.

Understand Your Legal Obligations

Although real estate inheritance is common, there are still some legal issues that must be considered. As such, you will need to understand what your legal obligations are regarding the will or estate process. Are you the executor of the will, or is someone else? Is the property included in a trust, or is it free-standing and gifted directly to you? Has the probate period passed, or can a family member or relative still challenge the will? If you haven’t already, it is best to speak with a real estate professional or experienced lawyer to get their advice.

Consider The Tax Implications

As with any financial windfall, there are going to be tax implications that need to be considered when selling an inherited home. For example, it’s unlikely that you will qualify for the home sales tax exclusion unless you have been living in that house as your primary residence. Once you sell the home, you will also need to report the proceeds of the sale to the IRS. There are also a variety of different taxes that need to be factored in, including estate taxes, inheritance taxes and more.

Consult An Experienced Real Estate Agent

Selling a home that you have inherited in a will or as part of an estate can be an emotionally draining process. Before you make any moves, it is best to speak with a real estate professional. Contact our office at your convenience and we will be happy to meet with you and share our guidance.

4 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Can Lead to Disaster — and How to Avoid Them

4 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Can Lead to Disaster -- and How to Avoid ThemAre you starting to get the renovation itch? With spring on the way, you might be tempted to launch those home improvement projects that you contemplated over the winter. However, as with any project, you will want to get things right. Let’s take a look at four renovation shortcuts that can lead to disaster and the steps you can take to avoid them.

Shortcut #1: Not Understanding Your Home’s Structure

Before you undertake any renovation involving your home’s structure, you must be confident that you know exactly what is where. For example, do you know what is inside of your walls? You might be surprised to learn what is hiding behind those pieces of painted drywall. Electrical wiring, plumbing, structural supports, insulation and possibly even soundproofing material can all be damaged by misplaced nails or cuts. You might also discover damage caused by pests, mold or water which needs to be repaired.

Shortcut #2: Not Measuring Everything (At Least) Twice

You have likely heard this tired cliché: “measure twice, cut once.” However, what you may not realize is that was intended for professionals. If you are new to renovating, you will want to measure at least twice, if not three times or more. A small measuring mistake of one-half-inch can mean the difference between your new cabinets fitting and not fitting. Or your tiles lining up with one another or not.

Shortcut #3: Not Using Quality Tools And Materials

Another shortcut that homeowners try to take when starting do-it-yourself home projects is using cheaper materials or whatever tools they have handy. Keep in mind that you are investing in your home and that you are saving money by not paying for the labor. Use those savings on top-quality materials that will withstand the test of time.

Shortcut #4: Not Calling A Professional After You Mess Up

Finally, one shortcut that must be avoided at all costs is not calling a professional if you have made a significant mistake. If you end up drilling into the wrong wire, or you damage something else beyond your repair skills, don’t try to patch it up. Swallow your pride and make the call. You will be able to sleep soundly knowing that whatever was damaged isn’t at risk of failing later.

Renovating your home is the best way to increase its value, but even the smallest mistake can blow up into a major problem in the future. To learn more about your home’s value, contact us today. 

What You Need to Know About Mortgage Insurance

What You Need to Know About Mortgage Insurance

Homeowners insurance and title insurance may not be the only kinds of insurance you need when you buy a home. Many buyers also have to purchase mortgage insurance, which lenders require for mortgages with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Take the time to understand what you’re buying and how long it will affect you.

Mortgage Insurance Protects the Lender

Most types of insurance will pay you if you make a claim. Mortgage insurance, though, is solely for the lender. If you were to stop making payments and the lender foreclosed on your home, the mortgage insurance would pay the lender the difference between the profit from selling your home and the amount you still owed on your mortgage.

Types of Mortgage Insurance

When you have a mortgage with a traditional lender, you get private mortgage insurance, often abbreviated PMI. This insurance is provided by a third party, although your lender will typically dictate who provides the insurance. When you get an FHA mortgage, the federal government provides the mortgage insurance and you pay mortgage insurance premiums, often abbreviated MIP.

Mortgage Insurance Amount

You can generally expect to pay 0.5 percent to 1 percent of your loan balance each year for private mortgage insurance. FHA mortgage insurance premiums are set by the federal government, and as of 2017, are 1.75 percent of the loan balance up front, plus 0.45 percent to 1.05 percent of the loan balance each year, depending on the type of loan.

How to Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance

FHA loans have mortgage insurance until the loan is paid off, either through regular payments or by refinancing. Traditional loans automatically cancel mortgage insurance when you have reached the point on your amortization schedule where the loan balance drops below 78 percent of the purchase price. You also may be able to apply to cancel mortgage insurance as soon as your loan balance is less than 80 percent of your home’s current appraised value.

How Can You Get Around Paying Mortgage Insurance?

When purchasing a home, the only way to avoid having to buy mortgage insurance is to get a mortgage for less than 80 percent of the home’s purchase price. However, the cost of mortgage insurance may be something you’re willing to pay for the opportunity to buy now without a down payment of 20 percent.

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your First Home? Use This Easy 4 Point Checklist

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your First Home? Use This Easy 4 Point ChecklistAre you growing tired of renting? Or perhaps you’ve recently graduated from college and are looking to set down some roots? Whatever the case, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. Let’s take a look at a quick and easy four-point checklist that you can use to determine if you are ready to buy your first home.

#1: Is Your Credit In Good Shape?

How is your overall financial health? Once you have your down payment saved up, you should turn your attention to your credit rating. If you are going to borrow a mortgage to help cover the cost of your home, your lender will be doing some digging into your credit history. It is best to ensure that you aren’t late with any payments and have cleared off any black marks from past credit problems.

#2: Can You See Yourself Living In This Community?

Do you love the area you live in? Or are you thinking about moving to a community that you like a bit more than your current one? Perhaps it’s the local shops, the amenities, the walking trails or just being closer to work. It is always best to ‘love where you live,’ so ensure that you are buying your first home in a community that you can call home.

#3: Is Your Job Situation Stable?

Another factor to consider is your job or career situation. Are you likely to switch companies or be transferred to another division within the next few years? Be sure to give some thought to this as it will be inconvenient to have to move shortly after buying and furnishing a home.

#4: Are You Planning To Have Children?

Finally, have you considered what your family might look like in the future? Are you planning to get married, or if you are already married are you planning to have a family? If you have children now, do you expect to have any more of them? Keep in mind that as your children grow older, they will need a bit more space. If you have a couple of young kids sharing bunk beds, each will need their own bedroom soon enough.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, our friendly mortgage team is here to help you find the perfect financing. Give our offices a call and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.

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

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 12th 2018Jerome “Jay” Powell was sworn in as Chair of the Federal Reserve amidst wild fluctuations in U.S. stock markets. Analysts attributed sliding stock prices to fears over inflation.

Mr. Powell, who follows former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, introduced himself via a video clip on the Fed’s website. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New Fed Chair Promises Transparency in Video Introduction

In a video introduction posted on the Fed’s website, new Fed Chair Jay Powell promised that the Fed would explain “what we are doing and why we are doing it.” Mr. Powell did not address stock market volatility but said that monetary policy decisions would be made based on the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and price stability along with economic growth.

Mr. Powell took leadership of the Fed as the national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent.

Mr. Powell is an attorney by profession and is the first Fed Chair not to hold a PhD in economics in more than 30 years.

Former Treasury Secretary Advises Against Raising Rates Too Fast

Former Obama administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers cautioned against raising rates too fast: “If the Fed raises rates sufficiently to assure financial stability, there is a risk that the economy will slow too much.

When the Federal Reserve raises its target federal funds rate financial institutions, mortgage lenders and retail lenders usually follow suit.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 10 basis points higher at 4.32 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.77 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained four basis points to 3.57 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent respectively.

New jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the 1970s. 221,000 first-time claims were filed as compared to 232.000 new claims expected and the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include readings on inflation, retail sales and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Indices. Readings on housing starts and building permits issued will also be released, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?

Down Payments 101: Is It Worth It to Put More Than 20 Percent Down?Are you thinking of buying a new home this spring or summer? If so, you’re not alone. Many thousands of individuals and families alike will become homeowners this year. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran of the housing market, you probably know there are significant choices to make. One of the big decisions you will have to ponder is how much you want to invest in your down payment.

With that in mind, let’s try to answer the question of whether or not it is worth it to put more than 20 percent of the home’s price in your down payment.

Ask Yourself: How Liquid Are You?

Before you can decide how much to put down, you first need to determine how liquid your finances are. That is, how much cash do you have access to? For example, if you are considering a $300,000 home, a 20 percent down payment is $60,000. If you have more than $60,000, fantastic. However, if you have less than that, you might have to do a bit of work to save up the remainder.

Even if you do have enough available cash now, you won’t have access to it once you take possession of the home. It is important to leave yourself with some cash in case of emergencies or for other uses.

Higher Down Payment, Lower Interest Rate

If you do choose to invest more than 20 percent in your down payment, it’s possible that you will gain access to a lower interest rate for your mortgage. Many lenders look favorably on homebuyers that are investing more of their own money and borrowing less. Be sure to check with your mortgage advisor to find out if you qualify for lower rates.

Lower Monthly Payments Await

Finally, choosing a down payment higher than 20 percent means that you will have lower monthly mortgage payments in the future. You are borrowing less so you will owe less. This can provide a nice boost to your monthly budget moving forward as you will have more free cash flow each month.

Try to keep in mind that there is no perfect answer to the question of how big your down payment should be. Choosing the best course of action means taking a good, long look at your current financial situation and deciding what your goals are. When you’re ready to discuss buying a new home contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to share our experience!

3 Reasons Why Buying an Investment Property Is the Best Way to Build Your Net Worth

3 Reasons Why Buying an Investment Property Is the Best Way to Build Your Net WorthWhether you have recently graduated from college or are getting close to retirement, it’s likely that you have given some thought as to how you can grow your net worth. You might have invested in stocks, picked up a few bonds or have a 401(k) plan set up to help fund your retirement. But have you considered buying real estate as part of your portfolio?

In today’s blog post we’ll have a look at three reasons why real estate investing is one of the most effective ways to grow your overall net worth.

Reason #1: It Generates Passive Income

One of the best reasons to hold real estate as part of your investment portfolio is that it can generate passive income in the form of rent. Whether you buy a single-family home or an apartment block, you can almost certainly find interested tenants who will live there. Part of the rent you receive each month will cover the costs of owning and operating the property. The rest of it is income which will continue to build over time.

Reason #2: It Increases In Value Over Time

Another great reason to invest in real estate is that in most cases, it increases in value over time. As long as you are maintaining the property and investing in its upkeep you have a decent shot at it being worth more in the coming years, should you decide to sell. Keep in mind that real estate is cyclical and that it’s not always going to be the right time to sell and realize your gains.

Reason #3: You Can Leverage Equity To Buy More Properties

Finally, our third reason that real estate is the best way to build your worth is your ability to use it as leverage to buy more real estate. For example, say you decide to purchase a house valued at $100,000 as an investment property. Once the mortgage on that home is paid off, you have an asset valued at $100,000 that you can then borrow against. So you can go out and acquire another $100,000 home without having to sell the first. As you can see, this can scale quite nicely over time.

If you are interested in learning more about real estate investing and how you can make use of mortgage financing to purchase properties, give our offices a call. We are happy to share our insight and expertise as well as advise you on the best mortgage products to help reach your financial goals.

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Ticks Upward in November Reading

Home prices increased in November, with national home prices up 0.70 percent month-to-month and 6.20 percent higher year-over year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.70 percent in the three-month period ending in November; nationally, home prices grew 6.20 percent year-over-year.  Seattle, Washington held first place in home price growth with a year-over-year increase of 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada home prices followed with year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent. San Francisco, California home prices grew by 9.10 percent year-over-year. Slim supplies of homes for sale drove rising home prices and sidelined would-be borrowers as affordability remained out of reach.  Home Prices Get a Pre-Recession Do-Over in Some Cities David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that Los Angeles and San Diego California along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami Florida are repeating fast-paced price gains that they had prior to the recession.  Mortgage Rates, Building Costs Impact Supply of Homes and Affordability Combined effects of high mortgage rates and rapidly rising home prices could dampen buyer enthusiasm over time, but the time-worn proclamation that what goes up must come down has not applied to home prices in high demand metro areas. Home buyers may rush to close their home loans before rates rise, but more buyers may delay buying a home due to few options, higher home prices and rising rates.  Lower taxes and rising wages may encourage renters to buy homes, but home prices continued to outstrip income for many potential buyers.  Building more homes is the only relief in sight for low inventories of homes for sale, but builders face rising materials costs, shortages of lots suitable for building and insufficient workers. Other factors impacting home building and buying homes include poor weather in some areas during December, and further shortages of homes caused by natural disasters in 2017. 2018 may see high-priced local areas develop affordable homeownership programs as current prices continue to rise above interested buyers’ financial resourcesHome prices increased in November, with national home prices up 0.70 percent month-to-month and 6.20 percent higher year-over year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.70 percent in the three-month period ending in November; nationally, home prices grew 6.20 percent year-over-year.

Seattle, Washington held first place in home price growth with a year-over-year increase of 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada home prices followed with year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent. San Francisco, California home prices grew by 9.10 percent year-over-year. Slim supplies of homes for sale drove rising home prices and sidelined would-be borrowers as affordability remained out of reach.

Home Prices Get a Pre-Recession Do-Over in Some Cities

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that Los Angeles and San Diego, California along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida are repeating fast-paced price gains that they had prior to the recession.

Mortgage Rates, Building Costs Impact Supply of Homes and Affordability

Combined effects of high mortgage rates and rapidly rising home prices could dampen buyer enthusiasm over time, but the time-worn proclamation that what goes up must come down has not applied to home prices in high demand metro areas. Home buyers may rush to close their home loans before rates rise, but more buyers may delay buying a home due to few options, higher home prices and rising rates.

Lower taxes and rising wages may encourage renters to buy homes, but home prices continued to outstrip income for many potential buyers.

Building more homes is the only relief in sight for low inventories of homes for sale, but builders face rising materials costs, shortages of lots suitable for building and insufficient workers. Other factors impacting home building and buying homes include poor weather in some areas during December, and further shortages of homes caused by natural disasters in 2017.

2018 may see high-priced local areas develop affordable homeownership programs as current prices continue to rise above interested buyers’ financial resources. 

The 4-Step Financial Checkup to Get Ready for a Mortgage in 2018

The 4-Step Financial Checkup to Get Ready for a Mortgage in 2018Are you ready to join the ranks of homeowners in our local community? Congratulations – homeownership is a big step towards building your net worth and financial freedom. However, it is also a significant transaction that will affect your finances for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at a quick four-step checklist that will help you to get ready to buy a home with a mortgage in 2018.

Step 1: Set Up A Monthly Budget

It might sound a little basic, but the best first step is to commit to a monthly budget. After you buy a home using a mortgage, you will be responsible for making monthly payments for a period of time. The faster you get used to working inside of a budget, the better.

Your budget doesn’t have to be extravagant. Simply list your sources of income and your expenses. If you are spending more than you are making, you are going to need to cut back a bit.

Step 2: Start Setting Aside Your Down Payment

If you haven’t already, it is an excellent time to start gathering the funds necessary to make your down payment. This is the amount of cash that you put forward against the price of the home. The remainder of the purchase cost is covered by your mortgage, which you will pay off monthly in the future.

Note that the standard down payment amount is 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. If you have less than this available, you may be required to purchase mortgage insurance. But don’t let this deter you from starting the process now, especially if you have found the house that you want to buy.

Step 3: Check Your Credit Rating

Next, you will want to check your credit rating and FICO score to find out if you have any outstanding issues. You can access a free credit report from any of the major reporting agencies up to once per year, so be sure to take advantage.

Step 4: Meet With Your Mortgage Advisor

Last, but not least, you will want to schedule a meeting with your mortgage advisor. This is your opportunity to have all your mortgage-related questions answered by a professional who has your best interests in mind. If you decide that you are ready to move forward with buying a home, you can begin the pre-approval process at your convenience. We look forward to helping guide you down the path to buying your dream home!

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