The 4-Step Financial Checkup to Get Ready for a Mortgage This Year

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 this year.

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!

Renovating in 2018? Cash-out Mortgage Refinancing Might Be the Best Way to Fund It

Renovating in 2018? Cash-out Mortgage Refinancing Might Be the Best Way to Fund ItIf you are a homeowner thinking about a significant home renovation in 2018, you have probably already considered your budget. As with any large project, you need to have the ability to pay the expected costs plus have a little bit extra set aside, just in case. The great news is that if you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you may qualify for cash-out refinancing, which can be a helpful way to leverage some of your home equity to cover renovation costs.

In today’s blog post we’ll explore the topic of cash-out refinancing and how this unique financial product can help to solve your budget woes.

What is Cash-Out Refinancing?

If you have never heard of it before, you are probably wondering exactly how cash-out refinancing works. In short, you refinance your existing mortgage into a new one while keeping the difference in cash. For example, if you have $100,000 left on your mortgage, but your home is worth $200,000, you might decide to refinance to $150,000. You will then be left with $50,000 in cash, which you can pull out to cover the cost of renovations or for other purposes.

Note that this is different from other forms of mortgage refinancing, which may or may not increase your total balance.

Some Of The Major Pros Of Cash-Out Refinancing

As you might imagine, there are significant pros to cash-out refinancing. If you decide to use the funds for renovation purposes, you are essentially using your mortgage to increase the value of your home. That is, of course, assuming you complete renovations which boost your home’s value!

Cash-out refinancing can also provide better or more stable interest rates than a loan or a home equity line of credit. This depends on a variety of circumstances, so be sure to check with your lender.

A Few Other Considerations To Keep In Mind

As with any financial product, there are some considerations to keep in mind. You may be extending the length of your mortgage, or refinancing to a different interest rate. You also can’t just walk in and sign for cash-out refinancing. There will be a process similar to the one that you went through when you got your current mortgage.

As you can see, cash-out refinancing is an excellent option for homeowners looking to use some of their home equity to finance other expenses. If you’d rather skip the renovations and are ready to begin searching for your dream home, contact us today. 

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, give us a call. We are happy to share our insight and expertise as well as advise you on the best local investment properties currently available.

In a Hurry to Buy a Home? Speed Your Mortgage Approval up by Following This Checklist

In a Hurry to Buy a Home? Speed Your Mortgage Approval up by Following This ChecklistHave you finally found your dream home after months of searching, only to discover that the seller has received other offers? Few circumstances can raise your stress level as much as finding yourself in a bidding war against another buyer. However, being unprepared by not having your finances in order can make the situation even worse. Let’s take a quick look at a few ways that you can speed up your mortgage approval if you are in a hurry to buy your next home.

Pull Your Credit Report ASAP

The first step you will want to do is check your credit report so you have an idea what your mortgage lender will be seeing. You can get a free copy from the major credit reporting agencies up to once per year, so take advantage. There are scams out there, so be sure to only request a report from a government-approved credit agency.

Get All Of Your Paperwork Ready Before You Go In

You will want to gather up as much financial documentation as you can before heading in to meet with your mortgage advisor. Pay stubs, tax forms, and bank statements are all going to be required to prove that you are accurately reporting your current financial situation. You will also want to be able to provide reasons for any substantial loans or other transactions that have taken place in the past couple of years.

Share It All And Keep No Secrets

If you want your mortgage approval to come back quickly, it’s best to be truthful and hold nothing back during the application process. If you lie or try to gloss over areas that you feel are a bit negative, it can end up delaying your approval. Be straight with your advisor and don’t keep any secrets from them.

Work With A Professional Team

Last but not least, if you want the fastest possible mortgage approval you will want to work with a professional team. An experienced mortgage advisor knows the ins-and-outs of the mortgage marketplace. They know which lenders will be able to process quickly and which tend to be on the slower side. If you try to borrow a mortgage from a bank or large lender, you are tied into their process which may not be as quick as you would like.

When you’re ready to buy a home, give us a call. Our real estate team is happy to help you find your dream home, no matter how much of a hurry you might be in. We look forward to assisting you!

How Much Is the Right Amount to Commit to Your Down Payment? Let’s Take a Look

How Much Is the Right Amount to Commit to Your Down Payment? Let's Take a LookAre you thinking about buying a new home? If you are going to take out mortgage financing, one consideration you will have is your down payment, which is the amount you pay up front in cash to cover some of the purchase cost. Let’s consider a few points that will help you to decide how much is the right amount for your down payment.

How Much Do You Have?

The most obvious question you will need to answer is: how much do I realistically have to place as a down payment? Keep in mind that your down payment is money that you aren’t going to see again until you sell your home. While you want to invest a significant amount for reasons we will share below, you still need to maintain a cash cushion of a year’s salary or so in case you fall ill or lose your job.

More Down, Less Monthly

The main case for putting as much as you can into your down payment is that the more you invest, the less you have to borrow. This means that over time, you will pay less interest and you will also have lower monthly payments. Keep in mind that with today’s low interest rates it’s a bit less of a burden to carry a large mortgage. However, these rates may swing upwards over the years, which will increase your costs.

The Need For Private Mortgage Insurance

If you’re going to put less than 20 percent down on your home, you’re almost certainly going to be required to purchase mortgage insurance. There are numerous options available to you, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration or FHA. Your mortgage lender will share this and other private insurance policies that will protect you.

Don’t Forget About Lost Opportunity Cost

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the lost opportunity cost that comes with investing a large down payment. Unless you have a terrible money manager, your mortgage interest rate is likely to be less than you would be able to make investing the difference in your financial portfolio. If you’re thinking about putting an extra $50,000 in your down payment, consider that you might be able to make 5 to 10 percent on that over the next decade. There are no guarantees in investing, so speak with a professional for further guidance.

If you are ready to start shopping for your dream home, contact your trusted real estate professional today. 

On Time, Every Time: How Being Late on Monthly Payments Can Affect Your Mortgage

On Time, Every Time: How Being Late on Monthly Payments Can Affect Your MortgageAre you the type of person that struggles with remembering to pay their bills on time? You’re not alone. People across the country regularly submit late monthly payments, inflicting terrible damage to their credit. Let’s take a quick look at how paying your loan or other monthly payments late can have a negative impact on your mortgage.

Your Credit Score Is At Risk

As you already know, almost all banks, credit cards, mortgage companies and other lenders rely on your credit score to help assess the risk of lending money to you. Paying any of your payments late – even something as small as your mobile phone bill or a department store credit card – can result in negative marks showing up on your credit report. If you are late enough times or fail to repay the late payment in full, then your score will start to drop.

Refinancing Can Be Affected

If you already have a mortgage, then a lower credit score can be a problem when you try to refinance. The process of refinancing involves taking out a new mortgage, in which your lender will reassess your risk using your credit score as one of the indicators. If you have been making late payments, you might end up having to settle for a higher interest rate or you may even be declined for the new mortgage.

Making A Late Payment? Contact Your Lender

If you are caught in a bind and have to make a late payment, it is best to call your lender as soon as possible. First, there may be a grace period in which you can be a few days late without any penalty. If that little bit of breathing room is all you need to get caught up, you’re set. If not, you can let them know your circumstances and discuss what options you have.

It is essential to pay your monthly payments on time, even if it means making some small sacrifices in other areas. The better your credit score looks, the more opportunities you will have to make positive financial moves in the future. Ready to start looking for your next home? Contact your local real estate professionals today.

Buying a New Home in a Hot Real Estate Market? Here Are 4 Tips You Will Need to Be Successful

Buying a New Home in a Hot Real Estate Market? Here Are 4 Tips You Will Need to Be SuccessfulAre you in the market for a new house? In a buyer’s market, finding and closing on a beautiful home can seem very easy. However, if you are shopping when the market is hot, you may end up fighting bidding wars and losing your dream home to a competing buyer. Let’s take a look at four tips that you will need to be successful when house hunting in a hot local real estate market.

Tip #1: Do Your Research Ahead Of Time

It should go without saying that in a hot market you will need to move quickly. Making an effort to do all your research ahead of time will ensure that you do not have to later, once you’ve found the perfect dream home. Check in with your real estate agent to find out what paperwork and other material will be needed.

Tip #2: Get A Mortgage Pre-approval

Once you have found your dream home, you may discover that other buyers are interested or have submitted bids. In this case, it is crucial that you can demonstrate that you have your mortgage financing pre-approved. Remember that the seller wants to close their sale quickly and for the best price. Showing up with pre-approved mortgage financing proves that you are serious about buying their home.

Tip #3: Be Ready To Pounce (But Don’t Be Hasty!)

Speaking of being serious, it is essential that you are ready to pounce on the right listing. A hot market means that you won’t be the only potential buyer checking out a home. The last thing you want to do is find the right house, then end up losing the chance to buy it because of unnecessary delays.

Tip #4: Small Sacrifices Are Okay

The final tip to keep in mind is that sometimes you will have to make a small sacrifice to close the deal. For example, the seller may want some special terms added to the agreement. Alternatively, they might ask you to pick up some of the closing costs. Whatever the case, keep in mind that a hot market means that you lose a bit of leverage. If it’s a small sacrifice, it might be worth it.

Buying a house in a hot real estate market can be challenging, but a little preparation will go a long way in ensuring you are the winning bidder. When you are ready to buy your next home, get in touch with your local real estate professionals.

Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval Amount

Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval AmountAre you planning to make an offer on a new home in a hot housing market? If so, one possibility is that you are going to end up bidding against other buyers who are looking to buy the same home. Unfortunately, in some cases bidding wars are inevitable, and they can be a significant source of stress. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can win a bidding war without having to spend more than you can afford.

Price Is Important, But It’s Not Everything

The first consideration to keep in mind is that price is important, but it isn’t the sole consideration that sellers make when deciding which offer to choose. In fact, for many home sellers, the price is secondary to a variety of other factors.

For example, consider whether or not the sellers need to close quickly. Perhaps they are moving to a new city, or have already bought a new house and are looking to get out of their old one. If you have your mortgage financing pre-approved and your paperwork in order, you can promise a shorter close than other buyers may be able to provide.

Have A Face-To-Face Conversation With The Listing Agent

It’s worth investing the time in a sit-down chat with the seller’s real estate agent to find out what their motivations are. Are they selling for the money, are they moving, are they under pressure or just getting rid of the house to make an upgrade? All are factors that you can use to your advantage in a bidding war.

Another great tip: be sure to find out where the sellers plan to live once they sell their home. If they want to stay in the house, you may be able to buy it and lease it back to them. That’s a difficult offer to refuse.

Be Flexible, But Be Firm

Finally, keep in mind that you will need to be flexible to win a bidding war, but you should remain firm. Don’t bend your offer or terms too much. If you table a great offer and still lose the bidding war, that’s life. You can move on and find another great home to live in.

If you are in a hot real estate market, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare for a bidding war when you submit an offer on a new home. For more insight, contact us today.

How to Run a Quick Financial Health Check Before You Apply for a Mortgage

How to Run a Quick Financial Health Check Before You Apply for a MortgageAre you planning on using a mortgage to help cover the cost of a new home? If so, you will want to prepare your finances and figure out how you will manage all those wallet-draining monthly expenses. Let’s take a look at how to run a quick financial health check to ensure you are ready to apply for a mortgage.

Update (Or Start) Your Monthly Budget

First, it is essential to get the basics out of the way. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a monthly budget to keep track of your income and expenses. Once you have a mortgage, it will be important to prioritize your monthly payments so that you don’t end up falling behind.

Starting a budget is easy and can be done with mobile apps, software, a spreadsheet or a pen and paper. List all sources of income so that you know exactly how much cash you are working with. Then, list out every one of your expenses. It can be tough to remember them all, so consider using debit and credit card statements from the past few months as a reminder.

Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report

Next, you will want to get a copy of your credit report so you can see what potential mortgage lenders will see when assessing your financial history. This is a free service that you can request once per year, so be sure to take advantage. Note that you will want to use government-approved websites for requesting your credit report. Be wary of scams.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

A down payment is not required for every home purchase, but having one saved up can make the buying process easier. The amount you will want to have saved up will depend on the cost of your home, whether you plan on carrying private mortgage insurance and a variety of other factors. If possible, try to save up an amount close to (or more than) twenty percent of the home’s purchase price.

Ready? Chat With A Professional

Now that you have run a quick financial health check, it is time to meet with a real estate professional. Contact us today.

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes — Here’s How

Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It With a Mortgage? Yes -- Here's HowHave you been hunting for a new house without finding one that suits your needs? If so, one option that you may want to consider is building a new construction home on a choice piece of land. In today’s blog post we will explore a few different mortgage options for those who are looking to build a brand-new home.

Qualifying For A Construction Mortgage

As with any mortgage product, the first step you will want to take is to begin the qualification process. As your lender does not have a completed house to use as collateral for your loan, qualifying can take a bit longer than usual. Your mortgage lender will gather information about the home you plan to build, including its size, features and who is contracted to build it. The more information you can provide during the qualification process, the better. You might find it helpful to have your builder or general contractor involved as they will have many of the answers needed.

Construction-to-Permanent Mortgages

One type of new construction mortgage is known as a ‘construction-to-permanent’ loan. With this kind of mortgage, you only go through the closing process once. In many cases, while your home is being built you are only responsible for paying off the mortgage interest each month. Once your home is finished, your lender will convert this mortgage into a standard mortgage like any other. You can choose from a variety of amortization periods, interest rates and more.

Standalone Construction Loans

A standalone new construction loan is a bit different. With this product, you borrow money to finance the construction of your home and then again as a permanent mortgage once the home is completed. These loan and mortgage combinations require you to go through the closing process twice and thus your fees may be a bit higher. However, if you are currently living in a home and won’t have much cash until it is sold, this might be the right product for you.

As you can see, building a new home on a piece of land is a bit different than the typical home buying process. To learn more about land available in your area, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share our expertise.