Questions and Answers Regarding The Veterans Loan Program

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

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

What Are The Specific VA Fees?

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

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

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

Are There Any Administrative Concerns Regarding VA Home Loans?

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

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

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

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

How Can A VA Loan Save Me Money?

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

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

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

Ultimately, however, you should probably sit down with your trusted real estate professional who can advise you on your wisest course of action.

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

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

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

So Who Exactly Are Generation Z?

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

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

This Generation Is Bigger Than The Millennials

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

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

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

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

 

Selling Your Home FHA? Learn These Tips To Ensure A Smooth Closing

What Are The Requirements To Sell A Home Using FHABefore an owner can market a property to buyers that want to use a FHA loan, he will want to familiarize himself with the FHA’s standards. FHA won’t insure loans on just any property. While their standards aren’t as stringent as they used to be, a home needs to be in relatively good condition to qualify for FHA financing.

Location and Lot

To qualify for FHA financing, the property has to be located on a road or easement that lets the owner freely enter and exit. The access also has to be paved with a surface that will work all year — a long dirt driveway that washes out in spring won’t qualify.

The FHA also wants the lot to be safe and free of pollution, radiation and other hazards. For that matter, it also needs to provide adequate drainage to keep water away from the house.

Property Exterior

The FHA’s requirements for making a loan start with the home’s roof. To pass muster, the house must have a watertight roof with some future life left. In addition, if the roof has three or more layers of old shingles, they must all be torn off as part of the replacement process.

The property’s exterior has to be free of chipped or damaged paint if the home has any risk of having lead paint. Its foundation should also be free of signs of exterior (and interior) damage. It also needs full exterior walls.

Property Interior

The property’s interior also needs to be inspected. FHA standards require that the home’s major systems be in good working order. Bedrooms should have egress routes for fire safety and the attic and basement should be free of signs of water or mold damage.

The bottom line is that the FHA wants to make loans on homes that borrowers can occupy. This doesn’t mean that a home has to be in perfect condition to be sold to an FHA mortgage-using borrower. It just needs to be a place that they can live.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss these issues as well as any other questions regarding the sale of your home.

 

6 Money Making Tips For The First Time Home Seller

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

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

Determine Right Listing Price

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

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

Curb Appeal Makes a Difference

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

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

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

De-clutter and Depersonalize

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

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

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

Repairs and Replacements

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

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

Offer the Extras

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

Consider a Pre-inspection

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

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

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

 

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

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

Case-Schiller: Home Prices Continue to Rise

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

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

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

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

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

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

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

Whats Ahead

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

7 Excellent Ideas For Building An Eco-Friendly Home

7 excellent ideas for building and eco friendly homeIn recent years, building an environmentally friendly home or updating an existing home to be more energy efficient has become much more mainstream. While building an entirely green residence isn’t always fiscally possible, simple eco-friendly building techniques and upgrades will ultimately lower your water and electricity bills.

These green home improvements will save you money in the long run, while also saving the planet. The following are some of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint when building or updating a home. 

Build or Purchase a Smaller Home

Smaller homes naturally have a lower impact on the environment. There is less square footage to cool and heat, which keeps energy consumption down. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream home. Instead, create an ideal floor plan with usable space, and downsize rooms you know you will not use on a daily — or even weekly — basis. 

Use Energy-Efficient Windows

When building a home or updating an existing home, use Energy Star-labeled windows. This important label means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed them as energy efficient. The money saved on future heating and cooling bills often more than make up for the initial cost differential. 

Use Energy-Efficient Products

Like windows, certain appliances are also Energy Star-labeled. Energy Star appliances conserve energy, without sacrificing performance. Everything from a single light bulb to a geothermal heat pump can come with this important, government-approved label. 

Use Proper Insulation

Heating and cooling typically accounts for approximately half of a home’s energy consumption, and this energy usage is often wasted due to poor insulation. Start by making sure there are no drafts by windows and doors. This is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the price of your monthly bills.

Install Solar Panels

Solar energy is both clean and renewable, and solar panels are the perfect way to harness this remarkable form of energy. While the initial cost of installation can seem high, the money saved in the long term is extraordinary. Plus, there are often tax breaks and other monetary incentives. When building a new home, consult with a knowledgeable architect about positioning the property and the solar panels for maximum sun exposure.

Use Sustainable Building Materials

Sustainable building materials can be utilized throughout the entire building process. When picking out wood for the frame of the home, use a supplier who practices an environmentally friendly planting and harvesting process. Once in the design phase, consider bamboo and/or cork flooring. They are both eco-friendly and trendy. 

Save Water

There are numerous ways to cut back on water usage. To start, install low-flow aerators on toilets and shower heads, invest in a tankless water heater and only use an Energy Star-rated washing machine. Next, capture rainwater on your property in a cistern or barrel. This water can be used for landscaping and irrigation.

Creating a green home doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple updates and a bit of forethought can drastically reduce monthly bills, while simultaneously reducing fossil-fuel emissions. 

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why Spring Is The Perfect Time To Sell

5 Reasons Spring Is The Perfect Time to SellSpring is many people’s favorite season of the year. Obviously, there are many valid reasons why this is so;  but, one of the best things about spring is that it is an ideal time to sell your home.

If you have considered putting your home on the market any time in the next year or so, check out these five reasons which make spring the ideal time.

  • Buyers are searching – A huge majority of home buyers want to move during summer. Many families have school or work vacations that make the moving process a little easier during this time. If you put your home on the market during spring, you ready things for someone to purchase and move in during this prime time

  • The weather is cooperative – Yes, there may be a few spring rain showers here and there, but during the spring season (in most parts of the country,) you’ll find that the weather is neither too hot nor too cold to keep buyers from searching. In addition, the spring sunshine makes for beautiful listing photos.

  • It’s a great time for home improvement – Whether you want to make improvements to your house to make selling easier, or you plan to sell your home as a fixer-upper, the knowledge that spring and the coming summer months is the perfect time to attend to these tasks will benefit you during the listing and sales process.

  • Your yard will look great – They say that curb appeal is one of the most important things that is considered when someone purchases a home. When you sell in springtime, the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom and your yard will look it’s very best. You may find that it’s a little easier to sell during this time just because of the extra “wow factor” your yard brings to the table.

  • The market is prime – Listen to any news or finance program and you’ll hear that the real estate market is booming. Take advantage of this benefit and pair it with all the other reasons to sell your home this spring. You may find that selling your property quickly and at your asking price is much easier than you ever imagined it would be.

As you can see, spring really is an excellent time to sell a home. However, don’t wait until the peak of the season to think about putting it on the market and expect to reap all the benefits. Act now and be ready to make a splash when the weather warms up and the sun comes out to shine.

 

The Humble Vegetable Garden: A Fun, Health-conscious Home Project for the Entire Family

The Humble Vegetable Garden: A Fun, Health-conscious Home Project for the Entire FamilyWhether you are hunting for a project that will pry the kids away from their phones or you just want a head start on the spring, few home projects are as rewarding as a vegetable garden.

Invest a few hours in planting today, some maintenance throughout the year and soon you’ll be enjoying some delicious, home-grown veggies. Ready? Let’s get started!

Selecting The Right Spot For Your Garden

The first decision you will need to make is where your garden will live. If you are new to gardening, you can start with a small patch of land in the corner of your backyard. The area needs to have full exposure to sunlight at least six to eight hours each day. Your plants will also need watering, so ensure that your hose can reach the plot or that you have another water source nearby.

Having good soil is necessary but not critical as you can buy a load of topsoil from a local nursery. You may want to invest in a composter as well so that you can make efficient use of food waste.

Choosing Which Vegetables To Grow

Next, you will need to choose what you want to grow in your garden. As mentioned above, if you are new to gardening you can start small with a few simple vegetables. Tomatoes are an excellent choice as they continue to produce throughout the year and can be used in so many different types of food. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are also a great choice. If you like fresh herbs, consider setting aside a part of your garden for basil, thyme and other herbs.

Materials You’ll Need To Get Started

As you might imagine, you do not need very much to start a garden. Some soil, gloves, a few hand tools and seeds or starter plants are enough to get going. Take the family out for a trip to a local nursery and ask about the best plants to start in the spring. From there, a trip to one of the large home supply stores will provide you with the rest.

Make What You Can, Buy What You Can’t

Finally, don’t forget that this is supposed to be a fun project! If you decide you need planter boxes, try to build them instead of buying them. Figure out what you can recycle or upcycle from around your home to use in the garden. Try to avoid buying over building unless you’re stuck.

Follow the steps above and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor. If you decide you need a more substantial yard, contact our offices today. Our real estate team will be happy to show you homes with yards that are perfect for planting your garden.

Your Guide To Aging In Place Home Modifications

Your Guide To Aging in Place Home ModificationsIf you’ve had to watch your parents transition into assisted living, you may have no desire to call such a place home. You are not alone. According to the Aging in Place Housing Survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 90 percent of seniors want to remain in their home.

Many survey respondents said that they would rather use nursing home funds towards purchasing a home that is suited for aging in place or making accessible home modifications.  

You’ve probably heard the buzzwords — aging in place, non-assisted living, universal design — these phrases mean the same thing: growing older in your home. Today, home modifications can help you continue to live in your home as you age. Plus, aging-in-place home modifications are much less expensive than moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility.

The problem is that most existing homes are not conducive to aging in place. There are more than 100 million homes in the United States. However, only one percent of them are currently set up for accessibility. Fortunately, there are a variety of home modifications that you can do to make any home more accessible. Here is a handy guide to accessible home modifications.

Think About Your Future Needs

The first step in making sure your home is suited to aging in place is to consider how your needs might change in the future. Everyone’s situation is different.

If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, it is best to talk with your doctor to determine how these health issues might make it hard for you to live on your own in the future. Consider what modifications you’ll need to make to ensure that your home will suit your future needs.

For example, if you are thinking of buying a new home with an upstairs, you might use the upper part of the house for your home office now and convert the area into a caregiver’s quarters in the future.

Consider a First-Floor Master Suite

An essential home modification for aging in place is first-floor living. Although you might not have mobility issues now, hip replacements and other problems that affect mobility are frequent with increasing age.

Plus, a first-floor suite can increase the value of your home should you sell in the future. According to data from Builder Online, out of the best-selling new home floor plans, more than 83 percent feature accessible master suites.

Choose Slip-Resistant Flooring

Falls are a serious threat to the independence and health of older adults. They are the leading cause of injuries among Americans ages 65 and older. That is why it is so important to take steps to reduce the likelihood of a fall.

One of the easiest modifications that you can make in this area is to choose slip-resistant flooring. Cork and bamboo flooring are both popular for aging in place as they are softer and thus more forgiving during a fall.

These are just a few of the aging in place modifications that you can make to your home. There are many others. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to sacrifice lifestyle or luxury to have a home that is also accessible.

Many of the above modifications can be made anytime and can help enhance the beauty and comfort of your home.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 26th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 26th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included readings on new and pre-owned home sales and the Federal Open Market Committee’s customary post meeting statement. Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave his first press conference as Chair of the Federal Reserve and FOMC. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

February Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Exceed Expectations, New Home Sales Fall Short

Sales of previously-owned homes exceeded expectations at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million sales. Analysts expected a rate of 5.40 million sales based on January’s reading of 5.38 million sales.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist, said that low inventories of available homes continued to impact rising home prices. Mr. Yun said that he did not expect any let-up on home price growth. February’s inventory of available homes slipped to a 3.4 months supply; a six-months supply of homes for sale is considered average and an indication of healthy housing markets.

Mr. Yun said that he may adjust forecasts for home price growth. First-time buyers are being squeezed out of housing markets due to rapidly rising home prices. The average price for a home was $241,700 in February. First-time buyer participation dropped to 29 percent of buyers as compared to an average of approximately 40 percent.

Regional sales of pre-owned homes were mixed. Sales in the Northeast dipped 12.30 percent; Midwest sales dipped by 2.40 percent. The South posted 6.60 percent growth in home sales, and the West reported 11.40 percent growth in home sales year-over-year.

Sales of new homes dipped in February.to 618,000 sales as compared to expectations of 630,000 sales and January’s reading of 622,000 sales of new homes. Combined effects of seasonal weather and homebuyer concerns over rising mortgage rates and home prices likely contributed to the drop in new home sales.

FOMC Raises Key Rate, New Fed Chair Sees Stronger Economy

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee raised the target federal funds rate to a range of 1.50 -1.75 percent, a move that was widely expected. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that the Fed would continue a modest pace of raising rates in 2018 but indicated a more aggressive pace for raising rates may be appropriate in 2019.

Federal Reserve analysts predicted eight rate hikes between 2018 and the end of 2020; this estimate includes that last three rate increases. Wednesday’s rate hike was the sixth quarter-point rate hike since December 2015.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave his first press conference as Fed Chair after the FOMC post-meeting statement. He indicated he is not fearful of inflation overheating and said that he would protect recent tax cuts.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates ticked up by one basis for all three types of mortgages it tracks. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.45 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.91 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.68 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose last week to 229,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 225,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 226,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts noted that winter readings for jobless claims can be unpredictable and don’t indicate weakening job markets.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, readings on pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.