Spring Is Real Estate’s ‘Rush Hour’ — Here’s How to Tell If You’re Prepared

Spring Is Real Estate's 'Rush Hour' -- Here's How to Tell If You're PreparedThe most popular time of year to buy a home is in the spring, and this means that if you’re preparing yourself for getting into the real estate market, you may be experiencing a time crunch. If you’re wondering if you’ll be ready to put your home up for sale in time to take advantage of the season, here are few things you’ll want to think about.

Have You Cleaned Up And De-cluttered?

Spring is not only an optimal time to put your home up for sale, it’s also an ideal time for spring-cleaning! Instead of leaving all of the de-cluttering and clearing away to the time when you know you’ll be moving, get prepared by going through your stuff and discarding anything that you don’t want to move. This will not only make the packing up procedure more streamlined, it will also make the basic cleaning duties like vacuuming a dusting a little easier to carry out.

Are You Prepared To Move?

A home can sit on the market for a few weeks or months, and it can also sell on the first day, so you’ll want to have a game plan for moving beforehand. If you don’t yet have a place to stay, determine a plan for yourself and your family so that you can start looking for a home to invest in or at least rental property. You don’t want to lose out on a good offer by not being prepared, so make sure you know where you’re going before getting into the market.

Do You Know The Market Conditions?

Spring is certainly the most popular time to buy, but if your home isn’t priced right for the conditions of the market, it may linger longer than you’d expect. If you’re selling on your own, you may want to take a look at the MLS listings to determine what similar homes in similar areas are selling for. It can also be a great idea to utilize the services of a local real estate agent who will have background knowledge of the market and be able to do the tough negotiating for you.

With spring being the best time to sell, it’s important to de-clutter your house ahead of time and be aware of the market conditions you’ll be dealing with.

Is It Still Possible to Get a Mortgage With Zero Down? Yes – and Here’s How

Is It Still Possible to Get a Mortgage With Zero Down? Yes - and Here's HowWhen it comes to investing in a mortgage, the down payment is key in making your investment a reality and proving to lenders that you’re a safe bet. However, while most opportunities for putting zero down on a home have disappeared since the recession, there are still a few ways to buy without putting money down. If you’re currently weighing your options, here’s what you need to know if you don’t have a down payment ready.

Loan Programs With No Down Payment

There are still a number of zero down loan programs for those who qualify. Veterans and families of veterans can often qualify for a VA loan if they prove military service. The United States Department of Agriculture also offers the USDA Rural Development Housing loan, which is designed primarily for low-income buyers looking at homes in rural locations.

What Are The Requirements?

The requirements to get a zero-down loan vary, but because they involve a more significant financial risk for the lender, there are often many restrictions. In many cases, the homebuyer will be required to prove that they have the money to re-pay their loan and they will also have to have a good credit history. As well, because of the convenience of no money down, the homebuyer will likely be paying a higher interest rate than they would if they provided a down payment.

Should You Invest In Zero Down?

The idea of not having to put money down can be very enticing for many homebuyers, but this means that you will be paying a higher monthly payment and have no equity in your home to start out. If you are set on buying a home in the near future but don’t have the money for a down payment, you may want to look into these or other low down payment loan programs. It may also be worth holding off until you’ve saved up as this can be a more financially sound decision for your future.

There are a number of benefits to not putting money down on your home and getting into the real estate market more quickly, but it’s important to consider what’s financially beneficial for you before choosing a zero-down option. If you’re currently on the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

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.

Buying a New Home? Three Major Mortgage Missteps That You’ll Want to Avoid

Buying a New Home? Three Major Mortgage Missteps That You'll Want to AvoidBuying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll make in your life, and it’s important to make sure that you’re doing what will be right for you down the road. If you’re trying to avoid buyer’s remorse and are wondering what major missteps to avoid when diving into the market, here are a few things you may want to watch out for.

Buying Too Much Home

It’s often the case that a homebuyer will get so excited about a home they see that they need to have it, but putting all of your money into one investment can be difficult to sustain over time. Instead of deciding to budget and buckle down on your expenditures, ensure that your monthly budget still leaves room in the event of other expenses or financial setbacks. This will ensure that your home stays as something you can enjoy that won’t become a burden.

Not Saving Up Enough

Many people want to invest in the market right away and get into a home, but it can often be worth the wait to save up so that you have at least 20% for a down payment. Putting 20% down on a house means that you won’t have to pay the added costs for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Not only can this lead to smaller mortgage payments on a monthly basis, it also means that you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage loan that much more quickly.

Forgetting All The Associated Costs

It’s easy to be wooed by the cost of the monthly payment and think that it’s less expensive than you thought, but it’s important not to forget about all the other costs that go into owning a home. In addition to the closing costs of home ownership, there will also be property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and the maintenance fees required for home upkeep. If the monthly mortgage payment is already pushing it, costs like these can make your overall mortgage costs unmanageable.

There are many mistakes that can be made when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of all of the costs of home ownership and taking the time to save up, you’ll be well on your way to owning a home that’s affordable and sustainable. If you’re getting prepared to delve into the real estate market, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 20, 2017

Last week’s economic readings included reports on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Association Housing Market Index and Federal Reserve FOMC statement and press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The Commerce Department released reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Rise

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for March rose by six points to an index reading of 71. Builders said that subsequent readings may ease as builders continue to face shortages of lots and labor. The President said that he would work to reduce regulations affecting builders, which likely contributed to March’s increased confidence reading.  Housing industry leaders continue to monitor builder confidence as it could signal increased development and building. Home sales figures have been held back due to lack of available homes and industry leaders repeatedly say that building new homes is the only way to release the bottleneck in single-family home sales.

High demand for homes has created rapid escalation in home prices in high-demand metro areas; this sidelines first-time and moderate income buyers.

Housing starts rose in February according to the Commerce Department. 1.288 million starts were reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; January’s reading was 1.288 housing starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Building permits issued were lower in February with 1.213 million permits issued as compared to 1.293 million permits issued in January.

Mortgage Rates, Federal Funds Rate Higher

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of average mortgage rates was completed prior to the Fed’s decision to raise its federal funds rate, mortgage rates were higher. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose nine basis points to 4.30 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fixed rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 3.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rose five basis points to 3.28 percent.

After it’s meeting concluded Wednesday, The Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy for the Federal Reserve announced its decision to raise the target federal funds range from 0.50 to 0.75 percent to 0.75 to 1.00 percent. The post-meeting statement cited stronger economic conditions that advanced the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and stable pricing. Inflation was noted to be nearing the Fed’s mid to long range goal of 2.00 percent annually and the national unemployment rate has held steady in the past several months.

 Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference that the federal funds rate may be raised two more times in 2017, but the FOMC statement and Chair Yellen said that FOMC members base monetary policy decisions on current information relating to domestic and global economic developments.

Inflation grew by 0.10 percent in February as compared to January’s growth rate of 0.60 percent. The core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors. Rose by 0.20 percent as expected and was lower than January’s reading of 0.30 percent growth. 

Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your Home

Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your HomeThe spring season may be a time of cherry blossoms and longer days, but it’s also common for allergies to ramp up. While you won’t be able to stop the season, there are things you can do to limit the impact of allergies in your home. If you’re wondering what has the greatest impact on your sinus health in the home, here are a few places you’ll want to check out.

Have You Looked Under The Bed?

Many diligent housecleaners will do a sweep under the bed each time, but for those of us who want to avoid pulling everything out, this area can be a very dusty spot. Next time you clean the house, take the time to remove everything out from under the bed that’s been collecting dust, whether there are old boxes, shoes or things you’ve forgotten about. Dust everything off, vacuum the area underneath and you’ll be well on your way to a cleaner air space.

Do You Like The Retro Rug?

Most vintage looks come back for business, and the shag rug is no exception; however, this style of carpet captures a lot of dust and can greatly impact your sinus health. If this is your favorite style of carpet, you’ll want to ensure you vacuum it frequently to pull out all of the dust. In the future, you may also want to opt for a different style of floor covering, as something lightweight and durable will be a better option when it comes to cleaning and taking care of yourself.

Blame It On The Bookshelf

There are few things that will collect dust like a bookshelf lined with old books. Unfortunately, bookshelves and books can be one of the most rarely dusted areas in the house since it’s a more time consuming task to pull out each book and wipe down the shelves. If you don’t want to downsize, you may want to take a damp cloth to your bookshelf every time you clean to give it a once over. Ensure you clean it more carefully at the end of each month to avoid dust buildup.

There are a lot of areas where dust can accumulate in the home and make allergies worse, but by checking under the bed and dusting the books you can avoid its worst ills.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Highest in 12 Years

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for March, builder confidence in market conditions reached its highest level in 12 years and was six points higher than February’s index reading of 65.

Housing market index readings are based on three components. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single family homes rose seven points to 78; builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months increased five points to an index reading of 78. Most surprising was the reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments, which eight points to 54 in March. Buyer traffic readings typically don’t exceed the benchmark reading of 50, which indicates neutral builder sentiment. Builder confidence in buyer traffic for March surpassed 50 only twice since the housing bubble era.

Housing Market Index Readings Expected to Moderate in Coming Months

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, said that Housing Market Index readings will probably be more moderate in coming months as builders continue to face obstacles. Builders cited rising costs for materials and ongoing shortages of labor and lots. On the upside, builders surveyed said that a less regulatory environment contributed to higher confidence readings.

While home builder confidence is higher, the connection between confidence and building more homes isn’t matched by housing starts. Builders also said that rising mortgage rates are a barrier to buying new homes. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee raised the target federal funds rate to 0.75 to 1.00 percent on Wednesday; federal rate hikes typically influence private lenders to raise consumer rates including mortgage rates.

In a post-meeting statement, Fed officials said that the federal funds rate remains accommodative and will continue to sustain economic growth and the Fed’s goal for a long-run inflation rate of 2.00 percent. The Fed cited its dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and price stabilization as supporting its decision to raise rates, but stated that actual decisions to raise the federal funds rate are based on close readings and information about global and domestic economic developments; future decisions could be impacted by emerging economic factors.

Mortgage 101: Five Key Mortgage Terms You Need to Understand

Mortgage 101: Five Key Mortgage Terms You Need to UnderstandFrom putting your home on the market to finding the lender with the best rates, there are so many things involved in buying a home that the terminology is just one more thing to add to the list. While there may be quite a few words you’ll hear that may be unclear, here are a few you’ll want to watch out for so you’ll be prepared for home ownership.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

Often known as ARM, an adjustable-rate mortgage corresponds to the conditions of the market. This means that your interest rate will shift from day to day along with the market, and the amount of your monthly mortgage payment will fluctuate along with it.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Unlike an ARM mortgage, a fixed-rate mortgage will offer a predictable monthly interest rate that you can rely on. While this can be comforting for many homeowners who are market-weary, it can also end up costing more than an adjustable-rate mortgage by the end of the loan term.

Down Payment

Down payment is one of the most familiar mortgage terms out there, and refers to the amount of money you put down on your home to secure it. While putting 20% down will enable you to avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, the amount that is required varies from lender to lender.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Often known as PMI, this type of insurance can often be confused with homeowner’s insurance, which protects your home in the event of fires, floods and other damage. PMI, however, is the type of insurance that is required for those who do not put 20% down and is there to protect the lender in case of loan default. For homebuyers who can put down 20% or more, PMI will not be an issue.

The Principal

With the costs involved in interest, insurance and the down payment, it can be confusing to keep all the mortgage fees straight. However, the principal is different from all of these things and is the total loan that you borrow to make your home purchase. When you hear the phrase “paying down the principal”, it refers to the total amount of your loan, without any interest.

There are many terms that may not be familiar to the layman, but there are a few that will be important to know when you’re hitting the real estate market. If you’re currently getting ready to purchase a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home Renovations

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home RenovationsThere’s a burden that comes along with having to do your taxes every spring, but it can actually be a great benefit if you’re getting a sizeable refund this year. While many people like the idea of going on a trip or spending the extra funds, here’s why you may want to consider investing it back into your home for a profit you’ll be able to see!

It’s Free Money

Many people will argue that your tax refund is money that’s already owed to you and is part of your income, but it still tends to feel like a bonus since most don’t work their taxes into their budget. While you may have your eye on something you’ve really wanted to buy of late, you may want to consider investing it into your home instead. This can be a simple way of reaping the benefits of a renovation without having to move money around in your monthly budget.

Bumping Up Your Home’s Value

Renovations often come with a very high price tag, but you can see the benefits of renovating by using just a portion of your tax return. Instead of spending the whole amount on renovations that will not increase your home’s value, consider things like an appliance upgrade, a new paint job or resurfacing your kitchen cabinets for changes that will financially benefit you down the road. You may also want to invest in some energy efficient fixes as these will likely draw in the environmentally friendly buyer.

Spring Is Selling Time

Many people put off renovations due to the cost involved, but spring is the optimal time to put your home on the market, which means a sizeable return can instantly benefit you. Instead of weighing your options and waiting until the busy real estate season is over, invest in some relatively quick fixes that will upgrade the look of your home. By getting these things done before the spring is over, you may have a much better chance at selling success at the price you’re looking for.

There are very few people that look forward to tax time, but getting a sizeable return can be a good reason to do some renovations and put your home on the market for the spring.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 13, 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.

What’s 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.

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