Dec 12

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

consumer1Millennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home.

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that.

Develop A Realistic Budget

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.

Make Sacrifices

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house.

Consider The Suburbs

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way.

Use State And Federal Programs

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal. Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies.

Get Your Hustle In Gear

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted mortgage professional for more information on how you can make your best investment.

Dec 11

3 Things You Need To Know About Divorce And Homeownership

Legal Considerations For Homeowners2Divorce can be an incredibly emotional and financially stressful time. Questions about what happens to assets and the family home add to the anxiety. Each state has divorce laws that differ and that can complicates decision-making.

For example, marital assets are distributed differently in community property states from equitable distribution ones. The idea of 50-50 splits may be a myth because judges have the discretion to deviate from even percentages. That being said, these are three things you should know about homeownership when contemplating divorce.

Who Gets The House?

This often ranks as the biggest question among divorcing spouses. Many years ago, it was assumed that the wife automatically gets the marital home. But laws have changed, and same-sex marriages don’t bring a difference in gender to the process.

These days, marital homes are generally subject to either community property divisions or equitable distribution. That means the court will either split it 50-50 or weight the equity in one person’s favor for a specific reason.

In divorces that include minor children, the parent who enjoys primary custody may be given an opportunity to remain in the home. This is often done by spouses agreeing to that solution. It’s also not uncommon for a court to order the home to be sold after children reach the age of majority.

Risks Of Co-Ownership After Divorce

Continuing to maintain joint ownership after divorce presents certain risks. In all likelihood, there will be a mortgage attached to the property and failure to make timely payments by either party puts both credit histories at risk. If one person falls on hard financial times, a court-ordered liquidation may be necessary. On the other hand, the other owner may have to foot all the bills to protect their credit rating.

Another risk associated with joint ownership is that the person living in the home may not adequately maintain it. Homeowners are all too familiar with ongoing maintenance and repairs. The home could end up losing value due to negligence. Although joint ownership has its child-rearing and potential value appreciation benefits, it can be risky.

When A Home Is Not A Marital Asset

Although states take different approaches to divide assets in a divorce, not everything is included in the so-called “marriage.” There are a number of items that are usually considered separate and apart from the marriage such as personal items, tools of a trade, pre-marital assets, and most importantly inheritance.

It is not uncommon for people to inherit a family home from parents or other loved ones. That property may not constitute a marital asset unless steps are taken to merge it.

For instance, putting a spouse’s name on the deed or leveraging its equity for a joint purpose may be considered co-mingling it with marital assets. However, if it remains separate and apart from the marriage, chances are that it will not be on the table for distribution during the divorce.

Homeownership and equity are handled differently from state to state. It’s important to speak with a legal professional about your unique situation.

If you are in need of assistance to refinance your current property, your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help.

Dec 10

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

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings on construction spending and Labor Department readings on private and public jobs growth. The Consumer Sentiment Index was released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Construction Spending Slows in October

Residential construction slowed in last month as public works projects increased. Private sector construction spending fell by -0.10 percent as compared to expected growth of 0.30 percent and last month’s negative reading of -0.10 percent.

Construction spending for October was $1.309 billion on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to September’s revised reading of $1.311 billion. Overall construction spending was 4.90 percent year-over-year.

Homebuilders continued to be wary of tariffs on building materials and cited high labor costs and a shortage of buildable lots. Winter weather also slows construction in many areas of the U.S.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 4.75 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages were four basis points lower at 4.21 percent on average.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged five basis points lower at 4.07 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. 5/1 adjustable rates had average discount points of 0/30 percent.

First-tome jobless claims were lower last week with 231,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 224,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 236,000 new jobless claims filed.

Labor Department: Slower Jobs Growth in Public, Private Sectors

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported fewer jobs added to Non-Farm Payrolls in November. 155,0000 public and private sector jobs were added as compared to expectations of 190,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 237,000 new jobs added. ADP reported 179,000 private sector jobs added in November as compared to 225,000 jobs added in October. The national unemployment held steady at 3.70 percent.

Consumer sentiment was unchanged in November with an index reading of 97.50 according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation, retail sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Dec 07

Home Buying Power Remains In Motion Depsite Rising Mortgage Rates

care-sunt-cartierele-unde-gasesti-cele-mai-ieftine-garsoniereThe real estate market does not occupy a space outside the laws of physics. As Sir Isaac Newton so aptly theorized, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When applying the English physicist’s Third Law to today’s rising mortgage rates, anticipating the reaction can be valuable information if you are planning to buy or sell a home or commercial property.

At first blush, residential home buyers and commercial property investors might expect the “opposite” reaction to impact buying power negatively. The initial data might lead many to believe that premise.

How Home Buyers Reacted To Rate Hikes

According to Realtor.com, the average cost to American mortgage holders increased by 15.8 percent from Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018. In dollars, that totaled about $223, reportedly from $1,413 to $1,636 when considered against the median home at $294,900. That so-called reaction seems to indicate a loss of buying power for everyday homeowners.

Naturally, these increases were higher in top real estate markets with New York at $545 increase and Seattle at $533 where the median home costs $529,900 and $550,045 respectively. The top 20 housing markets incurred a total 68 percent of the increases year-over-year. Compounding the reaction to rising rates, many pundits are claiming the Fed’s rate hikes are creating stock market volatility.

All of these numbers seem to indicate a gloomy opposite reaction to mortgage rate increases. Or do they?

Real Estate Market Remains In Motion

Much of that thinking stems from looking at increased costs as if they somehow prohibit home buyers from making purchases. But the very fact that Americans are purchasing homes and paying somewhat higher monthly mortgage premiums indicates people enjoy the required buying power. Yes, rates have increased since the Great Recession, but that was always the plan.

Keep in mind that Newton has a few other applicable laws of physics as well. For example, “A body in motion remains in motion.” The Fed’s decision to finally raise rates was held back by a sluggish recovery. Today’s robust economy has prompted the long overdue interest rate hikes, but they are still quite low.

If, for example, mortgage rate increases resulted in a stagnant housing or commercial real estate market, that might be considered an adverse reaction. However, single-family homes and investment properties are in high demand.

That should indicate that the booming economy has improved buying power ahead of mortgage rate increases. Simply put, Americans seem to be ahead in the real estate game.

For everyday families interested in starter homes, homeowners eyeing a more substantial property or commercial investors looking to get into the market, a smart equal and opposite reaction to rate increases may be to get in quickly and enjoy today’s low rates before the next planned increase.

Be sure to consult with your trusted mortgage professional for your best financing options.

Dec 06

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014

best-maryland-mortgage-rates-480 wideObstacles facing home builders have caught up with high builder confidence according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November. Builder confidence dropped eight points to an index reading of 60, which was the largest month-to-month drop in builder confidence since 2014. November’s decline in builder confidence was greater than the largest month-to-month decline during the housing crisis.

Housing Market Index readings over 50 are considered positive, but analysts said that long-standing headwinds caught up with home builders’ outlook on housing market conditions and sub-categories used to comprise the overall Housing Market Index reading.

Obstacles Impacted November Home Builder Confidence in Housing Market

Builders have long cited shortages of buildable lots, rising materials costs and labor shortages, but builder sentiment appeared strong until November. Recent tariffs on building materials and rising mortgage rates further added to builder concerns. Buyer traffic indicated that would-be home buyers may be waiting for home prices and mortgage rates to fall. Less demand for homes would increase inventories of homes for sale and potentially reduce extreme buyer competition that caused rapid price gains in high-demand metro areas.

Components of November’s NAHB HMI also declined in November. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell seven points to an index reading of 67. Builder confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months dropped ten points to 65. The reading for buyer traffic in housing developments dropped eight points to 45. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the HMI index reading of 50.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Things to Know

Housing and mortgage industry pros view the HMI as an early indicator of construction pace and for measuring supplies of homes for sale. The National Association of Home Builders HMI is based on survey of NAHB members; the sample size varies according to the number of responses received from builders each month. Analysts noted that November’s reading was impacted by fewer builder responses in November; 315 responses were received in November as compared to 360 builder responses in October. Fewer responses increase the volatility of index readings.

Approaching winter weather typically reduces home construction and plans for new construction; 2018 has seen natural disasters and catastrophic wildfires that destroyed many homes. While these factors did not impact November’s home builder confidence, readings they will likely affect home builder confidence readings in the coming months.

If you are looking to buy or refinance, your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you identify your best financing options.

Dec 05

Mortgage Challenges For Self-Employed Home Buyers

lower-income-taxesIt’s no secret that mortgage lending institutions look favorably on steady paychecks and positive debt-to-income ratios. That can leave many self-employed prospective home buyers feeling anxious about getting approved for a mortgage. But just like the 9-to-5ers who get regular paychecks, self-employed people earning a good living can get approved with a little due diligence.

The primary concern of mortgage lenders is not necessarily where your revenue comes from, it’s confidence that you can meet the monthly obligations. A lender probably wouldn’t see a significant difference between someone who was paid every two weeks and another paid monthly. Why should a self-employed earner be any different? While there are differences, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Self-Employed Mortgage Applicants Face ‘Different’ Scrutiny

When reviewing a self-employed person’s mortgage application, the lender can expand their consideration to items related to your business. Factors such as stability, longevity, location, and viability are issues that can come into play.

This type of review mirrors that of steady paycheck earners in terms of length of employment, history of layoffs and other potential revenue setbacks. There really isn’t a higher standard for self-employed mortgage applicants. You enjoy a different professional life, and the process reflects those differences. That being said, there are a number of things you can do to put your best foot forward toward mortgage approval.

Strengthen Your Self-Employed Mortgage Application

First and foremost, every mortgage applicant must be able to demonstrate an ability to meet the monthly payments on paper. There is no way around the debt-to-income ratio. And although many self-employed people exercise some lifestyle flexibility in terms of tax deductions, your numbers have to prove you can take on a mortgage. That being said, there are important items you may want to consider when applying for a home loan.

Revenue Stability: Volatile swings in revenue are not generally persuasive. Lenders tend to like steady and positive growth reflected in your business and personal earnings.
Tax Returns Matter: This can be particularly problematic for people who find creatively legal ways to make revenue tax exempt. Home offices and company cars can lower your taxable income, but they also reduce your ability to pay the mortgage, at least on paper. Plan ahead by strategically filing strong earned-revenue tax returns.
Consistency Matters: There are a few ways to demonstrate consistency. It can be level monthly earnings or multiple years of tax returns in the same business. Your income may only be considered if it fluctuates in a way that frightens lenders.
Good Credit: Some cash-oriented people tend to discount the value of credit scores. The adage that “cash is king” may apply to the down payment, but a poor credit history can hurt your chances with lenders. Think “credit is king” when applying for a home loan.
Being self-employed does not mean you are at a strategic disadvantage when applying for a mortgage. But keep in mind that the home loan review can be slightly different. As always, your best next step would be to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to go over your personal situation.

Dec 04

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To Consider

builder-confidence-is-upA home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and the American Dream for many. Most people spend significant time finding or designing their “dream home.” The first decision is whether to buy or build.

As of September 2018, the average sales price of a new home was $377,200, according to joint data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Existing homes sales price was approximately $258,100, according to the National Association of Realtors.

New homes attract bigger prices than existing ones, meaning building costs are also high. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are five factors to consider.

Time

Building a home takes time since you must complete several phases. You must buy land, find an architect to design, get building permits, find a contractor and start building. It can take between six months and a year before you move into your new home.

Buying an existing home shortens that time. For a new house, you can move in once the escrow closes. Older homes may require renovations, but it won’t take long.

Home Design

Building your home gives you the benefit of customization. Working with your architect, you can design your dream home to reflect your taste and preference. Buying an existing home, means you may have to compromise on a few aspects.

Energy Efficiency

Rising energy costs is a concern to potential homeowners. Designing your own home means you can incorporate measures to be energy efficient. Buying an old home may require more resources to upgrade. That might end up hitting your wallet harder.

Fortunately, most homebuilders are responding to market demands for energy efficient homes. Most new homes meet these standards.

Budget

Budget is an important consideration when buying or building your home. Buying price reflects the value of the house. Your real estate agent will probably give you payment options.

Building, on the other hand, means you have to juggle a budget constantly throughout the construction period. It is not uncommon to spend more than you budgeted for initially.

Even if you decide to find a perfect existing home, you may finally opt to build. Conversely, you may strategize to build and later choose to buy an existing home. In both cases, working with qualified professionals such as a trusted mortgage lender, real estate agent or a builder can make the process seamless.

Dec 03

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 3rd, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, sales of new homes and pending home sales. FHFA increased maximum loan limits permitted for mortgages held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Indicates Slow-Down in Home Price Growth

Home prices slowed their growth in September according to Case-Shiller. David Blitzer, CEO and Chairman of S & P Dow Jones Indices, said “Home prices plus data on house sales and construction confirm the slowdown in housing.

Rapidly rising home prices have sidelined new and moderate-income home buyers; slim inventories of homes for sale and recently rising mortgage rates also squeezed options for home buyers.

Home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.70 percent in September as compared to 5.70 percent during August. September’s reading was the lowest in nearly two years, but remains close to twice the growth rate for wages.

Las Vegas, Nevada held first place for home price growth with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 13.50 percent. San Francisco, California followed with a year-over-year growth reading of 9.90 percent. Seattle, Washington held third place for home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.40 percent.

New and Pending Home Sales Dip in October

The Commerce Department reported s fewer sales of newly-built home in October to 544,000 sales as compared to September’s reading of 597,000 sales of new homes. Analysts predicted a reading of 589,000 sales for October. Home sales slow as winter weather and holidays approach, but higher mortgage rates also caused the dip in sales.

Pending home sales are sales where a purchase offer is made, but the sale of a home has not closed. Pending home sales were -2.60 percent lower in October as compared to 0.70 percent growth in September. The National Association of Realtors® reported an October index reading of 102.1 as compared to September’s reading of 104.8 in September, which represented a 2.60 percent decline in contract signings. This was the lowest reading for contract signings since June 2014.

Mortgage Rates, Higher Loan Limits and New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for average mortgage rates; Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 4.81 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged one basis point higher at 4.25 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 4.12 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced higher loan limits for home loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The maximum loan amount for conforming mortgages was raised 6.90 percent to $484,350. The maximum loan amount for mortgages in high priced counties will be based on 150 percent of the $484,300, which is $726,525.00.

New jobless claims were higher last week with 234,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 220,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 224,000 first-time claims filed.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector job growth. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Nov 30

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate Countertops

do-it-yourself-kitchen-remodeling-ideasIt can be confusing choosing the right countertop material for your kitchen. Here is a list of some common countertop materials along with their pros and cons. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right material to serve your needs.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is available in different colors and can have a luxurious appearance because it is a manufactured product. It is durable, which means it will not chip or crack as easily as natural stones. Quartz countertops have a non-porous surface which makes it easy to maintain by being stain resistant and it not harboring bacteria or viruses. Some may decide to stay away from Quartz since the price tag will be similar to natural stones while having a more contemporary look and not being as heat resistant as natural stones.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a natural stone product. It is most often chosen for its ability to deliver a luxurious look to any kitchen. Granite is able to withstand hard use and will not scratch even when cutting directly on it with a sharp knife. It is heat resistant, which means placing a hot pot from the stove onto the counter will not damage the stone. However, since Granite is porous, it can absorb liquids such as wine, juice, or oil that will create a permanent stain. The key to avoiding such stains is maintenance, the Granite countertop will need to be sealed once a year or depending on usage to cover the pores. A poorly sealed surface can also harbour bacteria in the pores.

Laminate Countertops

One of the biggest advantages of laminate countertops is that it can look like a natural stone countertop at only a fraction of the price. Laminate does not require any special products or maintenance such as sealing; it can withstand everyday use, and be replaced at a low cost. On the other hand, you need to be cautious with laminate. These countertops can be easily cut or scratched and they are not resistant to heat, placing a hot pot directly onto it can lead to a burn mark or discoloration.

With many countertop materials to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision. Some of the more important questions to consider are porous or non-porous, durability, and price. At the end of the day you should chose something that fits your needs.

If you would like to purchase a new home or to refinance your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Nov 29

5 Creative Ways To Buy A Foreclosure

rates-this-weekBuying a foreclosed home is easy, right? After all, they sell for pennies on the dollar, right? Well, that could be a false assumption. Buying a foreclosed property appears easy on TV, but in reality, it can be overwhelming.

Foreclosure sales continue to decline in the market from 38.6 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2017 but ticking up a bit in 2018 according to Attom Data Solutions, a national property data company. As foreclosure sales drop, competition for these properties become stiffer and more complex. And as home prices increase in most cities, buyers often turn to foreclosures as affordable alternatives for landing their dream home

Foreclosures usually occur when homeowners can no longer pay their mortgages and the mortgagees seize the properties. Once former owners vacate the properties, lenders typically put it on sale at discounted price or auction to the highest bidder.

Foreclosures give homebuyers the opportunity to get great deals. While foreclosures can save you thousands of dollars, it may come with risks. Having a stomach of steel can help when pursuing a foreclosure.

5 Creative Ways To Buy A ForeclosureTo mitigate the risks involved, keep the following hacks and tricks in mind.

Budget Carefully

Don’t allow a small price tag to entice you into a quick deal. Ask yourself the following:

Do you have sufficient dollars for extensive repairs?
Do you have a team ready for any required repairs or are you handy at doing them yourself?
Can you find a tenant if you intend to rent?
If you conduct thorough research, you’ll minimize the risks.

Get A Home Inspection

Though foreclosures are usually sold “as is”, you need to know the property deficiencies. The home seller can allow you to bring in a competent home inspector. Your inspector will give you a list of what the property lacks and the cost estimates needed to complete the renovations. You may even want to hire a home inspector after purchasing a foreclosure just to get a thorough review of the property.

Ask For Vacancy Duration

Ask how long the house remained vacant. In most cases, long vacancy means more damages. For example, plumbing seals may dry out, bugs get into the house and sewer gases back up.

Don’t Ignore The Landscaping

Neglected landscaping contribute to house deterioration. Tree seedlings grow roots into the foundation and vines crawl into the windows. Small trees can also mess up pavers, and dead branches can break and crash into the house.

Be Cautious With Auctions

Although auctions are common with foreclosures, it’s best to avoid them. And if you can’t, be vigilant when bidding. Competitive bidding can raise the value so high that you end up losing money after the cost of repairs.

It’s always best to work with your trusted local real estate professional to find foreclosure properties. They are experienced in determining the quality of the properties and can help you through the tenuous foreclosure purchase process.

Another key partner is your trusted mortgage professional. If your good credit and pre-approval are in place, you will be on your way to making an offer as soon as the right property comes along.

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