Did You Know: 3 Reasons Why Mortgage Pre-approval Should Be Your Very First Step

Did You Know: 3 Reasons Why Mortgage Pre-approval Should Be Your Very First StepThere are so many details involved in the mortgage process that you may not be aware of what pre-approval is if you’ve just entered the market. However, pre-approval assesses your ability to make monthly mortgage payments and can be an important first step in the home-buying process. If you’re currently contemplating a home purchase, here’s why you may want to consider pre-approval first.

Improved Agent Attention

Real estate agents may be reluctant to spend the time or put significant effort into a homebuyer that has not been pre-approved for a mortgage. While a good real estate agent will assist you in finding a home that’s right for you, if you haven’t gone through the necessary process of determining if you’ll be approved, they may think it’s not worth their time to show you houses you may not be eligible to buy.

A Benefit For Home Sellers

In the event that you happen to come across a home that you want to purchase and make an offer prior to pre-approval, there’s a chance the buyer will not waste their time considering it. Because the pre-approval process can determine errors in your credit history and there’s a wait involved, many home sellers will not want to be held up by this process to sell their home. As a pre-approval can reveal errors and bump up your credit score, it can also be of greater benefit for you to have an accurate number going into the home purchase.

Determines Your Financial Health

While a pre-approval is not a sure sign that your mortgage application will be approved, it can provide a detailed look at your financial health. This means that if you happen to have a less flattering credit history than expected, you can go back to the drawing board, saving more money and making payments, to try and bump up your credit. While this isn’t necessarily enticing for the person who is ready to buy, it can be a benefit for the type of home you’ll be approved for.

It’s common to want to get out into the market and find the perfect house at the right price, but pre-approval is an important process that will help you determine the house you can afford. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things Easier

Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things EasierAre you thinking about buying that perfect new home? Whether you’re buying for yourself or a new home for a family, there will be many costs involved. Let’s take a look at 3 budgeting tips that will help make home ownership on a single income easier.

Get A Full Picture Of Home Ownership Costs

Buying a home is never as simple as paying a mortgage payment each month. So, as with most budgets the first place to start is a full consideration of everything involved.

On top of your mortgage, what other monthly costs will come up? Consider utilities like electricity, phone, cable, water and others. You’ll be responsible for property taxes, so find out how much other local owners are paying. If you’re buying into a community, you may have to pay monthly fees to a homeowners’ association.

When you’re visiting open houses and talking to owners, be sure to get a full picture of their monthly costs. It will help you build a responsible budget.

Keep Your Credit As Strong As Possible

It might sound obvious, but keeping your credit or FICO score spotless is important. Buying a home on a single income means that you’ll need a mortgage. Depending on the home you’re buying, this might be significant. Your credit score is one of many factors your lender will use to assess you, but it’s the most important. So keep those bills paid on time and avoid any black marks on your credit report.

Plan Ahead For Unexpected Budget Shocks

Don’t forget to think ahead at events that — while unlikely — may shock your finances. Having one income means that you’re one negative health event away from being out of work. What happens if the income-earner gets sick, fired or laid off? Is there other work nearby, or would you need to move? Consider the different types of insurance you can get on your mortgage and home. And how much you’ll need to put away in a ‘rainy day fund’ each month.

While it might be a bit more of a struggle, it’s still possible to buy a home on a single income. For more tips and insight, be sure to contact your local real estate professional. They’ll be able to share how other single-income families have bought homes in your local market.

If Your Home Is Destroyed in a Natural Disaster, What Happens to Your Mortgage?

If Your Home Is Destroyed in a Natural Disaster, What Happens to Your Mortgage? When you’ve been in your home for a while and have established a certain amount of equity, it can be a good feeling to know that you have an investment you can count on. However, with changing weather patterns you may be afraid of a natural disaster striking and what it could mean for your financial well-being. If you’re curious about how this can impact your mortgage, here are a few things to consider.

Determine Your Protection

The thought of having your home adversely impacted by a natural disaster is bad, but it can be even worse if the proper precautions haven’t been taken to insure your house against its wrath. While there are certain calamities that will be less likely in your area and may be difficult to get insurance for, if you live in an area prone to floods or earthquakes, you should have protection against their occurrence. In all likelihood, if you’ve taken the proper precautions when taking on home insurance, your home should be prepared for what nature unleashes.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Whether you’re certain that your home is covered in the event of a natural disaster or not, it’s important to contact your insurance company as soon as disaster occurs so that you can make the necessary claim. This means that you’ll need to be able to explain what happened, the extent of the damage and provide photographic evidence of your claim so that you have the evidence to back it up. Once the worst has occurred, you’ll want to file a claim with the company as soon as you can to ensure you’ll get back what you’ve invested.

What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?

Generally speaking, there are a number of natural disasters that are included under homeowner’s insurance including tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. Insurance for disasters like earthquakes, floods and tsunamis can be purchased separately, while the occurrence of landslides and avalanches may be covered separately. It’s important when purchasing a home that you are covered against natural disasters that can occur in the area so your biggest investment is not at risk.The occurrence of a natural disaster is stressful enough without having to worry about the possibility of your insurance not covering the damage.

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You’re Not Cut Out to Be a Landlord

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a LandlordThe idea of purchasing a property and having renters can be an exciting business venture that offers lucrative financial rewards. However, there’s a lot involved in being a successful landlord and it’s important to be aware of what’s required before making the commitment. Whether you’re investing in one rental property or five, here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting involved.

Can You Do-It-Yourself?

There’s a lot more to being a landlord than taking the rental check, and one of these things is being there for the tenant when push comes to shove. If there are issues with the heating or the fridge breaks down, you’re going to be the one who has to facilitate or complete the repair, so you’ll need to have the wherewithal to fix problems effectively. While there are many situations where a repairperson can help, having some DIY skills goes a long way towards turning a better profit.

Do You Have The Time?

Weeks and even months may go by where your tenant requires little to nothing from you, but if you own an older property or have several renters, even maintaining the place can get to be quite a bit of a chore. It can be a good expenditure to have a contractor take care of these issues, but you’ll still have to use your time to find the right person and oversee the budget. If you already have a pretty full schedule, being a landlord will add a lot more to the pile.

Can You Deal With The Risk?

It can be easy to turn a profit if you have a renter, but if you happen to own property in a vacation area or a community on a downturn, it may be more difficult to find renters consistently. There may be periods of time where tenants are scarce, and this means that you’ll have to be comfortable with financial instability in order to weather the storm. While the moneymaking months can make up for the off-season, if you doubt your ability to take on the financial risk, this may not be the right choice.

Being a landlord is a considerable responsibility that will require you to take on financial risk and serve your tenants effectively and efficiently. If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord and are looking for a rental property, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 6, 2017

Last week’s economic readings included reports on construction spending, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and pending home sales. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a speech that federal interest rates would “likely” be raised. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Pending Home Sales Slump as Available Homes Dwindle

Pending Home sales fell in January as inventories of available homes declined. Prospective buyers faced with fewer choices may have chosen to wait rather than purchase homes that weren’t a good match for their needs. Analysts expected pending home sales to grow by 1.10 percent in January, but they fell by 2.80 percent to an index reading of 106.4, which was the lowest reading since January 2016. Additional factors contributing to lower pending sales, which represent sales under contract but not yet closed, include consumer uncertainty about economic conditions under the new administration and fear of rising mortgage rates. Affordability is also an issue for first-time buyers as short supplies of homes create more competition among prospective buyers.

Real estate pros have repeatedly said that the only way to resolve shortages of homes is to build more. While home builder confidence in market conditions has grown in recent months, housing starts and construction spending have not followed suit. Construction spending in January was 0.10 percent lower despite projections of 0.60 percent growth in construction spending and a positive reading of 0.10 percent in spending for December. Winter weather conditions can affect construction during winter months. Ongoing shortages of available lots and labor have also held back builders from optimum construction rat

Home Prices Rise in December

S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices rose to 5.80 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate. November’s reading showed 5.60 percent growth in average home prices, Home prices continue to grow in the West as Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado held on to the top three spots for fastest growth in home prices among cities surveyed.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.10 percent rate, which was six basis points lower than the prior week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.32 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.14 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower last week with 233,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed. There were 244,000 new claims filed in the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Labor reports including ADP payrolls Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate Friendly

Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate FriendlyMany people are concerned with having a negative impact on the environment, but it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to climate friendly solutions around the home. Whether you’re planning for a future investment or are interested in fixing-up the home you’re in, here are some solutions for greening up your personal space that won’t bust the bank.

Evaluate Your Insulation

If your insulation is not installed properly or requires more padding, this will have a significant impact on your energy use and your monthly electricity bill. By doing a candle test around the house to check for drafts around windows or air ducts, you can easily determine places that need a bit of a patch so the cold air can stay outside.

Re-Use An Old Item

When re-designing a space in your home, it’s tempting to run out to Pottery Barn or IKEA to pick out something new, but re-using an old piece can go a long way towards lessening your footprint. Instead of heading to the big box store, search online for old items people are selling or visit a garage sale. You may just find an unexpected piece that will add a vintage touch.

Collect The Rainwater

A great way to conserve water around the home is to set up a barrel somewhere in your yard to collect water when it rains. Whether it’s from the sky or coming down from the eaves troughs, it’s one of the easiest ways to conserve. While this green-friendly venture is DIY, it will still provide much-needed water when you’re washing the car or watering the plants.

Install A Programmable Thermostat

One of the best ways to conserve energy in your home and lower your electricity bill each month is to install a programmable thermostat. This will enable you to set the heating and cooling in your home so it works in conjunction with your schedule and you won’t have to make the adjustment on your own. You may even want to lower the temperature or change your adjustment times to provide even greater savings.

For many people, the impact they’re having on the environment is an important concern, but there are things that homeowners can do to minimize their impact. If you’re currently greening up your home and are getting prepared to put it on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Case-Shiller: December Home Prices Highest in More Than Two Years

December home prices continued to rise per December readings for Case-Shiller’s National and 20-City Home Price Indices. On average, national home prices increased by 5,80 percent year-over-year and exceeded November’s year-over-year reading of 5.60 percent. The 20 City Index, which analysts follow more closely than the National Home Price Index, posted a year-over-year gain of 5.60 percent in December, which exceeded an expected reading of 5.40 percent and November’s year-over-year reading of 5.20 percent growth.

West Posts Highest Home Price Growth

The West continued to dominate home price growth rates with Seattle, Washington posting 10.80 percent year-over-year growth while Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado posted year-over-year gains of 10.00 percent and 8.90 percent respectively. New York, New York posted the lowest year-over-year gain in home prices with year-over-year growth of 3.10 percent. Washington, D.C. followed with 4.20 percent growth in home prices; Cleveland, Ohio posted a year-over-year gain of 4.40 percent.

Home Price Growth Rate Doesn’t Indicate a New Housing Bubble

David M. Blitzer, Chairman and Managing Director of the S&P Indices Committee that oversees Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, said that home prices adjusted for inflation averaged a year-over-year growth rate of 3.80 percent. While higher than average, Mr. Blitzer said the current rate of home price growth “is not alarming.”

While rising home prices may sideline moderate-income and first-time homebuyers, high demand for homes and ongoing shortages of homes for sale continued to drive prices up. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes an average inventory reading, but the current supply of homes for sale averages three to four months. Recently rising mortgage rates were also cited as contributing to higher home prices; rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage average 4.20 percent as compared to 6.40 percent on average since 1990.

Questions of affordability and rising rates could impact first-time buyers who enable current homeowners to sell their homes and “move up.” If large numbers of first-time buyers are sidelined by rising home values and mortgage rates, home prices could be impacted if investors and cash buyers fail to fill in gaps between high home prices and affordability.

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging Tips

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging TipsWith all of the busyness of the winter months and most people settling in for the season, it can be hard to achieve a successful home sale at the end of the year. Fortunately, if you simply can’t wait to put your home on the market, here are some staging tips that will engage potential buyers so you won’t have to wait much longer for an offer.

Add Accents To Your Neutrals

It’s often the case that a home with neutral colors will show better because potential buyers can envision themselves in it, but there are ways to dress up neutral tones that will add spark. Instead of leaving your place too ho-hum, try punching up the color palette with a few bright pieces that will catch the eye. Whether you add a throw, some pillows, a vase or a vivid painting, this can be a simple way to create a lasting impression.

Let The Light In

The winter months can be a more difficult time to let natural light in, but few things will have a more positive impact on how your home shows than the lighting. A warm, homey space that is lit in a way that maximizes your home’s best features will be sure to make potential home buyers interested. In addition, good lighting will work to minimize any flaws that might be more visible in a less flattering light.

Don’t Forget About The Senses

It’s easy to get so involved in cleaning and de-cluttering your home that you forget about creating ambiance, but engaging the senses can have a very positive impact on potential home buyers. Instead of leaving this aspect to chance, you may want to bake something to create a pleasant scent or play music so that people viewing your home will stick around a little longer. Potential home buyers may not be aware of it, but engaging the senses can have an unconscious effect on the impression your home leaves.

The winter months are not always the best time to put your home on the market, but it may just mean that you’ll need to put in a little more effort to make the sale. By engaging the senses and adding color to a neutral palette, you may just snag an ideal offer. If you’re currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Selling Your Home? 3 Ways You Can Use Your Social Network to Speed up Your Sale

Selling Your Home? 3 Ways You Can Use Your Social Network to Speed up Your Sale There are many traditional ways to sell your home, from the MLS listings to a sign in the front yard. However, the ease of the Internet and the utility of social media can make it easier than ever to find the right buyer. If you’re getting prepared to put your home on the market and are trying to determine a strategy, here are some ways you can use social media to improve your selling odds.

Tweet Out The Details

Twitter accounts may more frequently be linked with a person, but because of the short burst of information involved in a tweet, it’s actually a great way to market your home. Whether you want to shout out a particular detail that’s worthy of recognition or make a more general statement about what it offers to potential homebuyers, this can be a clever means of getting the attention of interested parties. It’s just important to make sure you don’t overdo it, so stick with a few tweets per day.

Create Your Own Website

Most homes will have a page on their real estate agent’s website, but having your own website for your home can be an easy means of drawing people in to its best features. While it doesn’t have to cost money or be too fancy to attract the right people, you’ll want to make sure that you have professional photos and pertinent information so the right buyers will be able to determine if it’s a good option for them.

Post On Facebook

According to Postling, up to 80% of real estate agents use Facebook to market their properties online, and this means that Facebook can be an ideal site for you to find an audience. It might seem surprising, but many people search for homes for sale on Facebook, so having a page set up that provides the right details and has some striking images may just snag you the homebuyer you’re looking for. It’s also a great way to leverage your group of friends and reach even more potential buyers.

It’s beneficial to utilize more traditional methods when it comes to selling your home, but there are plenty of ways that you can use social media to enhance your home’s profile and find unexpected leads. If you’re currently getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate expert for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 27, 2017

Last week’s readings on new and existing home sales provided further evidence of strengthening housing markets. Both categories of home sales exceeded December’s readings. Consumer sentiment was lower in February than for January and average rates were mixed with fixed rates higher and the rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages lower. Consumer sentiment lower in February.

New and Previouslyowned Home Sales Higher in January

Home sales volume rose in January regardless of obstacles including higher mortgage rates and rising home prices. The National Association of Realtors® reported more sales of pre-owned homes in January. 5.69 million homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January, which surpassed expectations of 5.57 million sales and December’s reading of 5.51 million sales of previously-owned homes.

New home sales also rose in January. 555,000 new home sales were reported, which fell short of 586,000 new home sales expected. 535,000 new homes were sold in December.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Mortgage rates have traditionally been tied to the performance of 10-year Treasury notes, but this connection may be weakening due to uncertainty about current economic influences. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year mortgage rose one basis point to 4.16 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.37 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped two basis points 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New Jobless claims also rose last week; 244,000 new claims were filed as compared to expectations of 237,000 new claims and the prior week’s revised reading of 238,000 new claims. The weekly reading for new jobless claims remained below the benchmark of 3000 new claims. The less volatile four-week rolling average of new claims filed reached its lowest level since July 1973 and fell by 4,000 new claims to 241,000 new claims filed. Layoffs remain low, so week-to-week variances in new jobless claim filed do not necessarily indicate faltering job markets.

Whats Next

This week’s economic news includes readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices, pending home sales and inflation. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.