Oct 12

5 Things To Know About Severe Weather And Homeowners Insurance

homeowners-insurance-questionsThe average homeowner feels secure knowing they have insurance in the event of a severe weather calamity. Most people believe that no matter what happens, they have paid for protection against disaster.

Unfortunately, not every homeowners insurance policy provides full reimbursement from severe weather losses. Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and other rare catastrophes may not be covered under your current policy.

Consider the impact of these extreme events and whether you are fully insured for the subsequent losses.

1: Hurricane Damage May Not Be Fully Covered

The recent national mobilization to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Florence highlights just how catastrophic severe weather can be to people and property. That being said, homeowners generally anticipate calling their insurance carrier to file a claim after returning home and assessing the damage.

It may come as a surprise, but many policies limit reimbursement to damage attributed to high winds. For example, a tree falls on a garage or vehicle and the insurance outfit writes a check.

But damage attributed to water can be tricky. Many policies do not cover flood insurance. That could mean that water backed up in the street or a stream, lake or pond overflowing into your home might not be covered. That’s why homeowners are advised to clarify water-related coverage.

2: Floods May Not Be Covered

People living near bodies of water may be required to carry flood insurance when applying for a mortgage. Flooding represents a high risk that can result in a total loss. Lenders are often apprehensive about approving mortgages for properties in so-called “floodplains.”

FEMA offers coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowners living just outside a flood zone may not be required to buy additional coverage. However, you are taking a significant risk.

If your policy does not cover flooding, you could be on the hook for the full cost of the home’s repair or replacement. Considering the average flood insurance policy runs about $700, it may be worth the expense to protect your investment.

3: Tornado Insurance Coverage Can Be Murky

Although most policies cover damage from tornados, premiums can run higher in regions prone to these severe weather storms. But, like hurricanes, tornados that additionally bring about flooding can pose a problem for homeowners who make a claim. A carrier may conclude that the high wind and impact damage enjoys coverage. Water, however, can be a very gray area.

4: Earthquakes Often Not Covered

Like people who live in flood plains, earthquake riders may be required in certain areas of the country. Without additional coverage, the destruction caused by these catastrophic events may not be reimbursed. It’s imperative that people living in or around regions prone to earthquakes carry specific coverage. Imagine losing your home and still owing a monthly mortgage payment.

The important thing to glean from this overview about severe weather claims is that homeowners are wise to dig deep into their policies and have a clear, concise understanding about coverage. Keep in mind that water damage from flooding, rain and even sewer back-ups pose a significant threat to your home. For a few dollars more, enhanced severe weather insurance may be worth every penny.

Homeowner’s insurance is a requirement for most home loans. It’s important to note that some properties at high risk may not qualify for financing or you may find that insurance for high risk properties adds too much to your bottom line. Consult your trusted home mortgage professional to find out what specific insurance is necessary to finance your new home.

Oct 11

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage Ready

calculator-imageYou probably already know that qualifying for a mortgage can be the biggest hurdle — aside from actually finding that dream property — along the path to home ownership.

Rather than agonizing about it, however, there are some positive actions you can take in advance to help you realize your dream.

Take A Close Look At Your Budget

If you don’t currently operate with a comprehensive household budget, get started now to analyze your income and monitor your spending habits. There’s no better way to prepare for home ownership than by being realistic about how you spend your money. If you don’t have a regular savings program, or if you’re constantly short on cash prior to the next payday, take steps to remedy the problem. Plan for the future by getting the present in check.

Gather Employment And Earnings Records

Mortgage lenders want to see stability and commitment. Finding and organize your employment records to show a consistent earnings pattern and, hopefully, a record of growth, both in terms of income and responsibility. Simplify the task of gathering required documents by collecting all records in a binder or notebook that can easily be copies when it’s time to submit them to a lender. It’s a confidence-building step as well.

Organize Your Banking Records

Lenders will not only want to see employment records, but they will require copies of all bank and investment accounts as well. Again, by being organized and getting a handle on your dollar inflow and outflow, you’ll gain insights into your individual spending habits and make the job easier for a mortgage specialist.

Make Copies Of Your Tax Returns

Tax returns confirm and validate all the other financial information that you will be required to supply. Typically, returns for the past two or three years will be required. If you own a small business or have income in addition to that from paid employment, make copies of those records as well.

Put A Halt To Spending

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your serious intent to purchase — and pay for — a new home is by curtailing your spending on impulse purchases and expensive entertainment. This is not the time to buy a new car, book an exotic vacation, purchase major electronics or even home furnishings, or commit to time payments of any sort. Frugality should become your mantra in the months leading up to loan qualification.

Monitor Your Credit Cards

If your credit rating is within acceptable limits, do what you can to make all payments on time, pay down balances, minimize new purchases and demonstrate your continuing ability to “live within your means.” Do not apply for new credit cards, no matter how tempting the offers, because increased account activity can adversely affect your FICO score. In addition, if you have a blip on your credit report, do what you can to repair it prior to making a mortgage loan application, or be prepared to explain the circumstances, in detail and in writing.

Applying for a loan need not be scary; understanding the financial reality, however, is a great benefit.

Contact your trusted home mortgage professional who will be able to assist you in organizing your documents and aligning you with your best financing options.

Oct 10

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Hit 11-Month Low in July

home-inventory-decreasing-means-prices-could-riseHome price growth slowed to its lowest pace in nearly a year according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. National home price growth averaged 6.00 percent year-over-year as compared to 6.20 percent growth in June.

The 20-city home price index rose 0.10 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.90 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth was attributed to buyer fatigue and rising inventories of available homes.

Las Vegas Home Price Growth Tops 20-City Home Price Index

Las Vegas, Nevada topped the 20-City Home Price index with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 13.70 percent. Las Vegas home prices crashed during the recession but continued to recover as the economy improved.Seattle, Washington home prices rose 12.70 percent year-over-year in July; San Francisco, California held third place in the 20-city Home Price Index with year-over-year home price growth of 10.80 percent. Five cities posted higher home price growth rates than in June.

Freddie Mac Predicts Further Slowing In Home Price Growth For 2018 And 2019

Prior to the release of July’s Case-Shiller data, Freddie Mac analysts said that home buyer budget limitations coupled with more homes for sale caused home price growth to slow. Freddie Mac projected home price growth of 5.50 percent for 2018 and 4.50 percent growth in 2019.

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released its home price index for July and reported lower home price growth in July. After posting steady year-over-year growth rates of 6.80 percent for April, May and June, July home price growth dipped to 6.40 percent. Data in home price data reported by FHFA includes homes connected with mortgages held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac.

While slower growth in home prices are good news for potential home buyers, rising mortgage rates, strict mortgage credit requirements and competition with cash buyers continue to create headwinds for home buyers who depend on mortgage financing to fund their home purchases.

If you are in the market for a new property or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional who can assist you with custom financing options to meet your specific needs.

Oct 09

What Are The Housing Market Projections For 3rd Qtr 2018 — And Beyond?

mortgage2The National Association of Realtors (NAR), in its ongoing analysis of home sales statistics, believes that prices will continue to rise during the third quarter, but that uncertainty over elections could be a factor during the second half of the year.

However, NAR’s report noted that in July, a typically lackluster month, home prices rose by about nine percent, and days on market decreased significantly, perhaps signaling a strong start for the third quarter.

National statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story, however. In addition, what will happen in the fourth quarter is, at this point, a bit more difficult to predict. Assessments about how home prices and real estate will end the year differ from one part of the country to another.

Looking Ahead

In 381 of 500 markets that were tracked, homes stayed on the market for fewer days in July 2018 than the median time on market the previous year, even in the highest price markets, typically a sign that demand is still outpacing supply.

Dallas-Fort Worth area mortgage lenders report a noticeable slowdown over the past several months, and the inventory of homes on the market has grown. But another Texas town, Midland, ranked as the nation’s hottest market for the second month in a row in July, based on continued high demand and the speed at which homes have been selling.

The list of fast-moving markets, compiled by by Realtor.com, also places Columbus, Ohio, Boston and Fort Wayne, Ind., at the top; Dallas-Fort Worth, interestingly, ranked 17th of 20 hot markets in the Realtor.com survey.

Potential Benefits

Some housing analysts note that even slight slowdowns in select markets, coupled with rising mortgage rates, may signal a wider downturn in sales nationally, adding that it is not entirely unexpected. Many real estate and mortgage professionals, however, view any potential “adjustment” as a good thing, with the explanation that the double-digit appreciation is unsustainable over the long term.

Prevailing wisdom is to take a wait and see approach leading up to midterm elections. Pollsters and pundits have widely variant opinions and, to date, trends are not sufficiently clear. In addition, the housing industry is seemingly healthy at this point and, barring unexpected major interest rate increases, demand for housing is likely to remain strong.

As one researcher at Texas A&M University explains, even a modest slowdown will likely only bring the real estate market down to 2016 levels and, in retrospect, that was a very good year! Other analysts are more positive, saying that an expected slowdown is positive and will prevent “a new bubble.”

As always, contact your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to discuss the current situation in your local market.

Sep 17

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 17th, 2018

federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings on consumer credit, inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Fed Reports Consumer Credit Jumps in July

The Federal Reserve reported that consumer credit rose from $9 billion in June to $17 billion in July. Analysts said a majority of consumer credit was issued for education loans and auto loans. June’s reading was revised downward to $8.50 billion from the original reading of $10.2 billion.

Credit card debt increased by 1.50 percent in July after declining by – 1.40 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer debt rose by 6.40 percent in July after growing 4.0 percent in June. July’s reading was the largest increase in eight months. The Fed’s Consumer Credit report does not include mortgage loans.

Inflation increased by 0.20 percent in August, which fell short of analyst expectations of 0.30 percent growth. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by -0.10 percent and was lower than the expected reading of 0.20 percent growth. July readings for inflation and core inflation were 0.20 percent.

Mortgage Rates and Consumer Sentiment Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates for the third consecutive week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to an average of 4.60 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged seven basis points higher at 4.06 percent and mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.93 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Discount rates were reported at 0.50 percent for fixed-rate loans and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 204,000 claims filed against expectations of 210,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 205,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Consumer sentiment rose in September. The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 100.8, which surpassed the expected index reading of 97.0 and the August reading of 96.2.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, The National Association of Realtors® on sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Sep 14

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your Home

how to add color to your homeDownsizing at any stage of life can offer multiple benefits. Less square footage may come with a smaller price tag and usually means less space to clean. However, when downsizing a home, there’s usually the question of what to do with everything. That’s when creative storage ideas become essential.

Before Downsizing, Take Stock

Before selecting the best storage options, it’s important to first take stock of all personal items, from furniture to clothing, kitchen gadgets, and keepsakes. Sort into items to keep, donate, discard, and place in long-term storage. Long-term storage may mean investing in a self-storage unit to hold things like seasonal decor. Less stuff can mean less storage space needed in a smaller home.

Maximize Closet Space

It doesn’t need to be a walk-in closet to have the capacity to store an array of personal items. Maximize any closet’s storage space with a few tricks. Install a second tier hanging rod and rely on an expandable shoe rack to keep the floor clutter-free. Reduce the number of hangers used by layering outfits on a single hanger — blouse, sweater, and necklace or dress shirt, tie, and jacket. Store seasonal clothing, linens, and pillows in space-saver bags that remove bulk.

Rely On Under-the-Bed Storage

Even in homes with expansive square footage, under the bed often is an under-utilized space. Shoes, books, and other items are shoved out-of-sight, collecting dust and remaining unorganized. When downsizing, every space should have a purpose. Depending on the bed height, consider flat storage boxes ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items. Storage boxes with rollers can make it easy to access and act like an additional set of drawers.

Choose Space-Saving Furniture

The popularity of tiny houses and the number of people downsizing has created a boom of innovative space-saving furniture options. For the living room there are ottomans that open to reveal storage space for pillows, blankets, or video cases. Consider a couch with built-in drawers that slide out. In the bedroom, there are multiple bed choices that have built-in drawers and storage, perfect if the room doesn’t have dresser space.

Open Shelves Provide Functionality Plus Style

Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, or main living area, open shelves offer great functionality in a smaller space while providing style to the home’s decor. Use them as storage for books, collections, and artwork. They’re ideal when there isn’t space for large bookcases or a coffee table. In the kitchen, open shelves can hold everything from dishes to glassware and potted herbs.

Whether you are looking to buy a smaller home or make modifications to your current home, your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate all of your financing opportunities.

Sep 13

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage Rates

care-sunt-cartierele-unde-gasesti-cele-mai-ieftine-garsoniereSecuring the best conventional mortgage rate possible can pose a challenge for even veteran property buyers.

Your mortgage rate will be determined by a variety of factors that pertain to your unique financial portfolio as well as economic forces. While no one has full control over all of the things that influence the process, understanding the manageable aspects can improve your negotiation position when securing a conventional mortgage.

Consider these four things that impact how conventional mortgage rates are determined.

1: Credit Is King

A borrower’s credit score has a tremendous impact on the final mortgage rate. The general rule is that the higher the score, the lower the rate. The opposite generally holds true as well.

Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of at least 620. Some will dip as low as 580. If yours falls lower, qualifying for a conventional loan may not be an option. But the good news about credit scores is that this is an element you have control over.

A credit report details your repayment history, previous loans, credit card and financial bandwidth, so to speak. Before mortgage shopping, get a copy of your credit report, clean up any blemishes and amp it up as high as possible.

2: Economic Growth Matters

The average home buyer has zero control over the economic forces that impact mortgage rates. But you do have choice about when to buy.

It’s no secret that the country is in the midst of tremendous GDP growth, historically low unemployment, improved consumer confidence and rising wages. This may seem like a good time to buy. Not necessarily when it comes to conventional mortgage rates.

Prosperity tends to create an uptick in consumers vying for home loans. That demand seems like a good thing. But the Fed often responds to high levels of consumer confidence by raising rates across the board. The theory behind this unfortunate environment stems from the idea lenders have limited resources.

It may seem counterintuitive, but weak economies often enjoy lower rates. For practical buying purposes, the U.S. economy looks like a juggernaut right now. You may want to buy sooner rather than later. Rates could go up again.

3: Price And Down Payment

Another set of facts that you have control over are the down payment amount and price of the home.

Conventional mortgages require a minimum down payment of 20 percent or higher. Like credit scores, the higher the down payment to better positioned you will be to secure the lowest possible rate. The basic concept trails back to the level of risk the lender takes by writing the loan.

For example, borrower defaults often force banks to take losses upwards of 30-60 percent of the loan. That 20 percent shows that you have real skin in the game and are less likely to stop paying the monthly premiums. Big down payments often correlate to lower mortgage rates.

Although 20 percent remains the industry standard, borrowers can secure a loan with less down. If you qualify for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down, expect a less than desirable rate and the additional cost of private mortgage insurance. It’s kind of a double whammy.

4: Loan Types Differ

There are several variables in the loan-writing process that directly impact rates.

Most loans have terms of 15-30 years and lenders are more apt to offer lower rates on shorter term mortgages. Fixed- or adjustable-rate types are also profoundly different. Adjustable mortgages tend to enjoy lower rates in weak economies. But when the country ramps up, so does your interest rate and monthly premium.

Fixed-rate conventional mortgages are static throughout the life of the loan. The rate may be slightly higher at the closing. However, you won’t be betting against the economy.

Lastly, borrowers have the ability to buy points. This practice allows borrowers to pay more upfront costs and enjoy lower mortgage rates for the life of the loan. It’s one method some people use to overcome less-than-perfect credit scores.

As always, contact your trusted mortgage finance professional to discuss the best plan for your individual circumstances.

Sep 12

Does Private Mortgage Insurance Make Sense For You?

calculator-imageIf you are reading this article, it’s entirely possible that you are considering buying a home. It’s also likely that you are weighing certain financial options between a sizable down payment or taking on the expense of mortgage insurance.

It’s important to understand that private mortgage insurance (PMI) helps mitigate the lender’s risk. It has little benefit to the homeowner, other than help facilitate the mortgage approval process. Home buyers would be well advised to understand the complexities of PMI because not everyone needs or can afford the additional cost.

Do You Need PMI?

PMI reduces the lending institution’s loss in the event a borrower cannot make payments. Homes that fall into foreclosure reportedly cost lenders upward of 60 percent of the remaining loan’s balance. That’s a significant amount of red ink in any ledger.

This reality prompts lenders to require buyers to purchase PMI when they cannot offset any potential loss with a 20 percent down payment or more. But keep in mind, the “20-percent” standard can be a bit misleading.

When a mortgage company considers your application, there are several factors at work beyond the size of your down payment. Banks scrutinize credit scores, repayment and bankruptcy history, as well as the types of mortgage programs that may be suitable.

Those who are required to purchase PMI should also keep a close watch on the repayment process. Once the mortgage balance dips below 80 percent of the home value, you may be able to end the PMI requirement.

Consider someone buying a home below market value. If you purchase the property at 90-percent of its value and put 10 percent down, the 80-20 threshold may be met in the lender’s eyes more quickly. In some cases the PMI can be eliminated after meeting the 80% loan to value, usually after a period of time in the loan.

The flipside is that a lender can require PMI even after the 80-20 measure if the borrower is considered high risk or has poor credit history. Yes, it’s complicated and you would be wise to sit down with a home loan professional.

What Is PMI And What Does It Cost?

In many respects, PMI functions like many other types of insurance. The purchaser makes payments and the insurance company pays out in the event of a loss, meaning loan default.

Just like the factors that go into the PMI requirement, the method of arriving at a cost can also be complex. Down payment amount, home value, credit score and history will all be considered. Home buyers can often lower rates by increasing their initial down payment. In most cases, PMI premiums generally run between 0.3 and 1.5 percent.

There are two standard methods of paying the annual PMI. In most cases, it simply gets rolled into the monthly mortgage installments. In some instances, the sum can be paid upfront. This may open the door a crack to lower annual pricing.

The true value of PMI to a borrower remains its ability to help gain loan approval when you might otherwise be rejected. If you are considering purchasing a home, it’s important to speak with a mortgage professional about your options.

Sep 11

New Home Construction Boom Expected

construction-spending-is-upThe housing market has been trending in a positive direction and economic indicators point to new home construction going vertical.

Following the housing bubble and sluggish post-recession economy, construction companies largely turned their attention away from new homes. Diminished values, high regulatory and materials costs served as deterrents to home-building.

But the economic revival the country is experiencing – coupled with a housing shortage – has builders poised to jump back into the single-family home game. Here are three reasons new home construction is expected to boom.

1: First-Time Buyer Lifestyles

Consider that the last big new construction boom occurred 12-16 years ago. Those so-called “new” homes are well lived in these days. The trickle of actual new homes since cannot come even close to meeting the demands of Millennials entering the housing market. This demographic also tends to look for vastly different things than the traditional buyers before them.

Millennials grew up immersed in technology. Smart-home and Green features rank high on their check list. Items such as solar panels, automation and being able to manage a living space from a phone app simply were not part of the previous housing boom equation. Simply put, young first-time buyers want a type of home that fits their life experience.

2: New Home Economics

The inventory shortage has driven many people to rent. Many would rather invest that monthly housing cost into equity and gain tax write-off benefits. Also, a high number of military service members are returning to civilian life as the War on Terror winds down. That means you have a growing number of people with the ability to secure friendly VA mortgages that require no down payment.

Stateside, tech and career schools are turning out graduates that are entering good paying jobs. This all adds up to a large number of first-time homebuyers with the economic temerity to reach above traditional starter homes.

3: Rising Mortgage Rates Matter

Some economists forecast economic shrinkage when the Fed raises rates. The president recently voiced his displeasure over the move.

But the rate increase remains a natural phenomenon in an economy enjoying historic positive measures. Record-low unemployment and a GDP that posted 4.1 percent growth are touchstones that everyday Americans are doing better and can afford a little more.

While naysayers may claim the modest interest rate increase will result in economic contraction, it could have exactly the opposite effect in the new construction market.

Consider that home-builders who shifted to other niche markets see a window for improved revenues given the tight home inventory. The uptick in rates means that people will likely be prompted to buy sooner, rather than wait for the next hike. That could be another reason a new construction perfect storm is brewing.

The winds appear to be blowing in the right direction for construction companies to jump back into the new home game. These homes are likely to sell quickly, and builders could see tremendous pre-sale interest. If you are interested in buying a newly built home or one still on the drawing board, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a pre-approval and financing options.

Sep 10

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 10th, 2018

fha construction loansLast week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, along with public and private-sector jobs growth. The national unemployment rate, weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Rises in July

July construction spending ticked up to 0.10 percent from June’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. Year-over-year, construction spending was 5.80 percent higher than for July 2017.Public-sector construction accounted for most of the growth and increased by 0.70 percent as private-sector construction projects decreased by -0.10 percent.

Month-to-month spending readings can be volatile, but analysts said that construction spending for the first seven months of 2018 were up 5.20 percent from the same period in 2017. July’s slower spending rate suggested that construction projects are slowing.

Given ongoing shortages of available homes, this is not good news for housing markets. High demand has driven home prices up, but affordability has become an issue in areas where home prices outpace inflation and wage growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.54 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged eight basis points higher at 3.93 percent. Analysts said that home prices continued to rise as demand for homes softened Higher home prices and mortgage rates sidelined first-time and moderate-income home buyers as slim inventories of homes for sale sidelined buyers who could not find homes they wanted to buy.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 213,000 claims filed. Analysts expected 212,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 213,000 first-time filings. The national unemployment rate held steady at 3.90 percent.

ADP payrolls dropped to 163,000 private-sector jobs in August as compared to 217,000 private-sector jobs added in July. The Commerce Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls reported 201,000 public and private-sector jobs added in August, which fell short of the expected reading of 212,000 jobs added and the prior month’s reading of 213,000 jobs added.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic readings include reports on inflation, retail sales and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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