Yes, You Should Take the Plunge and Buy a New Home in 2017. Here’s Why

Yes, You Should Take the Plunge and Buy a New Home in 2017. Here's WhyAre you thinking about buying a house, apartment or condo? In many markets across the country, there’s never been a better time than now to become a homeowner. In this post, we’ll share a few reasons why the conditions are right to jump into the market and buy a new home.

Interest Rates Are Heading Up

If you’re like most home buyers, you’re probably looking to make use of mortgage financing to help spread out the purchase cost over a longer period of time. If so, you’ll want to make a move in 2017 so you can lock in a low interest rate. The Federal Reserve has indicated that interest rates are going to continue to rise over the next year or two. If that prediction holds true, mortgage costs will continue to grow along with rates. Buying in 2017 means that you’ll be able to secure a lower mortgage rate which in turn will save you money.

It’s A Buyer’s Market In Most Areas

Depending on the community that you’re looking to buy in, you may find that it’s a bit of a buyer’s market. There are a number of individuals looking to sell their homes to lock in the price appreciation that’s taken place during the recovery since the 2008 financial crisis. More listings on the market mean that sellers will be open to negotiation as they won’t want their home sale to take weeks or months. If you’re pre-approved for your mortgage financing and are serious about buying, you may be able to convince a seller to take a lower offer than they normally would.

You’ll Start Building Real Net Worth

Of course, one of the best parts of buying a home is that it’s a significant financial investment. Properly maintained, your home should continue to increase in value over time. As you continue to invest in upgrades and renovations, you’ll build more and more equity that can be used as leverage for additional credit or just pocketed when you eventually decide to sell. Even though every market has its ups and downs, owning real estate is a far greater path to prosperity than renting.

When you’re ready to get into the market and find your dream home, contact your trusted mortgage professionals.

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here’s How

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here's HowAre you thinking about buying a new house? Whether you’re a first-time or experienced buyer, if your credit score isn’t looking too hot it can affect how much mortgage financing you receive – or whether you’re approved at all! But don’t fret. It’s still possible to get a mortgage approved, even with credit issues. Below we’ll share a few ways that you can get a mortgage loan even if your credit is less than perfect.

Consider An FHA-Guaranteed Mortgage

For many individuals with credit issues, the Federal Housing Administration’s guaranteed loan programs are a good choice. In essence, the FHA guarantees your mortgage with select lenders, which allows them to worry less about the risk of lending to someone with past credit problems. It’s worth noting that FHA programs do come with some additional costs attached. Mortgage insurance may be assessed, which helps to protect the mortgage lender in case you default. And there may or may not be an additional monthly premium cost as well.

Do Everything You Can To Improve Your Credit Score

Before taking the next step and applying for a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure your FICO credit score is as high as possible. Call or visit the website of one of the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. You’ll want to review any outstanding issues on the report and eliminate anything that shouldn’t be there. For example, in the past, you may have had a credit card or small loan that went into collections yet is still in the report even though you paid it. Contact the credit agency to challenge anything that shouldn’t be on your report.

Don’t Stretch Beyond Your Means

If and when you’re approved for a mortgage, it’s critical to remember not to reach beyond your ability to pay the mortgage payments each month. Yes, it might seem like an excellent idea to get a larger or more luxurious house if a larger mortgage is offered to you. However, don’t forget that you’ll need to manage payments each month for many years and it’s tough to predict the future.

Try not to worry if you have a low credit or FICO score and you’re interested in buying a home. A great first step would be to contact your professional mortgage advisor. We’re here to help navigate the mortgage application process and can explain how your credit score will impact your chances.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Surges in August

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions surged in August after sagging to an eight-month low in July. The National Association of Home Builders reported a July reading of 68 in August after analysts expected a one- point increase from July’s Housing Market Index reading of 64. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than those who do not.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index also improved in August. Builder confidence in current housing market condition rose four points to 74; Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 78. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to an index reading of 49.

Positive Economy Fuels Builder Confidence

Builders have long cited a shortage of buildable lots and labor, along with rising costs as impacting confidence in current and future confidence in housing markets. NAHB said that labor shortages are worse in 2017 than in 2016. Builders reported labor shortages including carpenters and electricians. August readings suggest that positive economic developments are mitigating long-term builder concerns, but a recent tariff on Canadian lumber raised materials costs for some builders.  

The discrepancy between builder confidence and housing starts concerns real estate pros and housing and lending industry leaders, but without enough workers to staff their building crews, home builders face obstacles in meeting buyer demand for homes.

Stronger economic and jobs indicators are boosting builder confidence in housing market conditions. As more prospective home buyers find stable jobs, buying a home becomes possible for prospective buyers who have waited for economic conditions to improve sufficiently to invest in home ownership.

You Ask, We Answer: What Kind of Fees Are Involved When I Get a Reverse Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: What Kind of Fees Are Involved When I Get a Reverse Mortgage?If you are approaching your golden years and seeking a bit of financial flexibility, you might want to look at a reverse mortgage. This unique financial product is only open to individuals over 62 years of age. It allows you to convert some of your home’s equity into cash which you can use as needed in your retirement.

Of course, a reverse mortgage isn’t without its costs. Let’s explore the fees that you will encounter when you take out a reverse mortgage loan.

Upfront And Pre-Closing Costs

The first step in getting a reverse mortgage (also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or “HECM”) is to visit with a third-party HECM advisor. These advisors are approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is their job to ensure that you know the ins and outs of getting a reverse mortgage. Expect to pay from $100 to $200 for this session.

Another cost you’ll incur is a home appraisal. Every reverse mortgage lender will require that your home’s value assessed by an independent appraiser. This cost varies from $200 to $500 and up depending on the size of your home, its current condition, its age and a variety of other factors.

Like a traditional mortgage, your lender is likely to assess an origination fee. This fee covers the cost of processing and closing your reverse mortgage loan. Most lenders charge a small percentage of the total amount of your loan. For example, if you are borrowing $100,000 you may pay around one or two percent, which comes to $1,000 or $2,000. Regardless of the total amount, the origination fee is capped at $6,000 total.

Post-Closing And Ongoing Costs

After your reverse mortgage has closed, you may find that there are some additional ongoing costs that you will need to be aware of. For example, some lenders charge a loan servicing fee. This fee is usually paid each month and tends to vary depending on the interest rate of your reverse mortgage.

Finally, you’ll be responsible for paying the ongoing cost of mortgage insurance. This is assessed as an annual premium and equals around 1.25 percent of the balance owing. As this can end up being a significant cost, it is one you’ll want to budget for.

As with any loan, a reverse mortgage has its costs. However, the financial flexibility you gain with a reverse mortgage is certainly worth it. When you’re ready to explore your reverse mortgage options, contact our friendly team of mortgage professionals. We’re happy to help.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 14, 2017

Job Openings, New Jobless Claims Rise

Job openings rose in June to 6.20 million as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 million job openings. Analysts said that increasing job vacancies show that employers are unable to find qualified workers. Business services, construction, health care and professional job sectors had the most job openings. Slow wage growth could be contributing to widespread job openings. Average wage growth has been running at approximately 2.50 percent, which is lower than the average of 3.50 to 4.00 percent typically seen during economic expansion.

First-time jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to expectations of 242,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 242,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.90 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.18 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 3.14 percent.

Inflation rose in July by 0.10 percent against an expected increase of 0.20 percent; June’s reading was unchanged. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.10 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent and 0.10 percent growth in June.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can Afford

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can AffordAre you shopping around for a new house or apartment? One of the key considerations you will need to make is figuring out how much you want to invest in your new home. Below you’ll find our quick and easy guide to determining just how much “house” you can afford. Let’s get started!

Start By Making A Proper Budget

The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down and get a full budget put together. The easiest way to get the process started is to begin with two lists: income and expenses. For the income list, write down the amount of money your family brings in each month after taxes. If you have side income sources or extra income that tends to fluctuate over time, use the average amount for the past six months.

For the expenses list, write down all the spending that you do each month. Start with the major, stable items like rent, utilities and the like. Then work your way through to discretionary spending like dining out and other sources of entertainment. If it helps, go through your bank and credit card statements to ensure that you are not missing anything.

Once you have an accurate budget, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to pay toward your mortgage payments each month.

Figure Out How Much You Can Put Down

Next, you’ll need to think about how much cash you want to pay as a down payment on your home. The larger the down payment you can afford, the smaller amount of mortgage financing you’ll need. While it might seem like a good idea to put as much as you can down, there are some things to consider. Any money you put against your down payment is going to be unavailable to you, which reduces your financial options. You’ll also lose the opportunity to invest it, which means missing out on potential returns over time.

Determine How Much House You Actually Need

Finally, give some thought as to how large or luxurious a home you want to buy. For example, if you have a small family and don’t need a large four- or five-bedroom house, you can instead opt for a smaller but more luxurious home. Conversely, if space is a priority, you may want to forego the high-end options to ensure you have enough room.

When you’re ready to explore your mortgage options, we’re ready to help. Contact your trusted mortgage professional at your convenience. We’re committed to helping you purchase the home of your dreams.

Getting Tired of Renting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons Why Young People Prefer Owning a Home

Getting Tired of Renting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons Why Young People Prefer Owning a HomeAt some point in their lives, every renter thinks about home ownership and whether or not it’s worth it. Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why young individuals prefer the idea of owning a home over renting.

It’s All About Control

It’s unlikely to come as a surprise that having control over their living space is the number one reason that younger buyers prefer owning over renting. Living in a home owned by someone else limits your ability to customize your home. Want to expand a room or rip out the kitchen cabinets? Good luck with getting your landlord to pay for that!

Privacy And Security Are Key

More than 90 percent of millennials reported that having a sense of privacy is an important factor when choosing between buying and renting. And this makes a lot of sense, especially in areas where a landlord has the right to enter the premises on short notice. It’s tough to imagine feeling secure when a landlord can demand access to their home for whatever reason they so choose.

Your Own Space Is Just Nicer

Take a look around your home. Is it as luxurious as you’d like it to be? While you can furnish a rented apartment or house however you want, in many cases, renters just don’t put the same amount of effort into it. 81% of young renters shared that one reason they want to buy is so that they can live in a nicer place.

You’ll Be More Engaged In The Community

If you want to feel more engaged in your local community, buying a home is an excellent idea. More than 75 percent of young and first-time buyers reported that community engagement is a key reason that they want to be a home owner. Not only are you more likely to care about the area around your home if you’re responsible for its upkeep. But as the value of your home is influenced by the surrounding area, you also have a financial incentive to staying engaged in the health of your community.

Owning Gives You Flexibility

Finally, consider that owning your own home will offer flexibility that you can’t get from renting. Not only will you be able to customize your home the way you want, but you’ll also have a productive financial asset. And that can be a huge help in securing additional credit if you want to make significant investments or other financial moves.

When you’re ready to expand your freedom by purchasing your own home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We’re happy to help.

3 Reasons to Hit the Accelerator on Your Mortgage Payments – If You Can Afford It

3 Reasons to Hit the Accelerator on Your Mortgage Payments If You Can Afford ItDoes the thought of repaying your mortgage for the next twenty-plus years leave you feeling a little down? Whether you’ve had your mortgage for weeks or years, accelerating your payments is an excellent option that can help get your mortgage fully paid off in a shorter time frame. Let’s explore three great reasons to accelerate your payments so that your mortgage debt is paid down faster.

You’ll Be Debt-Free That Much Faster

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating that you’ll be debt-free that much quicker if you accelerate your repayment schedule. Every extra payment you make against your mortgage debt builds the amount of equity you own in your home. So not only are you becoming more debt-free with each payment, but you’re also building your net worth. And while it’s true that you might only shave a year or two off of your 25-year mortgage period, being debt-free faster is still worth the effort.

You’ll Pay Less Interest

With most mortgages, any extra payments that you make will go straight towards your ‘principal’ balance. Getting the principal paid down faster means that you’ll end up paying less in interest than if you hadn’t. If you consider that every year you shave off of a 20-year amortization period is a full year of interest that you won’t have to pay, it adds up. Note that if you have an existing mortgage agreement, you’ll need to check the terms to determine the rules around extra principal payments.

You’ll Have More Financial Freedom

Finally, the faster you get your mortgage paid off, the more financial freedom you’ll have. The equity and credit you’ve built over time will also provide you with some options. You can invest in buying an investment property, or in taking out a line of credit to renovate and upgrade your current home. If the numbers make sense, you can also borrow against your home equity to invest in the financial markets. This will diversify your investment portfolio and expand your net worth.

As you can see, it’s well worth the financial investment to accelerate your mortgage repayment. If you can afford it and it won’t significantly lower your quality of life. If you have questions about a mortgage new or existing, contact our team of mortgage professionals. We’re happy to help.

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community GardenAh, the city. With so many people living in an urban landscape these days, it can be hard to find anything more than a planter on the balcony for your herbs. And good luck finding space for vegetables or large flowering plants! Fortunately, coming up with a community garden can be a great way to get the locals together. If you’re wondering how to get started with this fun project, begin with the following guide.

Find The Right People

Organizing your own community garden can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s important to gather a group of like-minded people that are interested in the idea and have the same passion for it that you do. Whether you decide to use a site like Meetup to get a group together or you have a variety of friends and neighbors who might be interested, ensure your group has both gardening and planning skills to bring to the table.

Research The Local Community

You’ll want to choose a site that’s not too far from your home, so talk to local horticultural organizations and your city or community center for information on available areas of land. Once you know the details, it will be easier to determine what exactly you’ll need to do to fund and develop the area. You might decide to cover the startup costs on your own, or you may want to create a small society which can be sponsored by local businesses. There may even be loan programs in your area that are available for your project, so ask around.

Start The Planting Process

Once you’ve determined who your crew will be and where you’ll be creating your garden, it will be much easier to move forward and determine what exactly your garden will be. Do you want it to be a collective which you all share together? Or do you want separate plots so all your members can do whatever they like? Once you’ve decided, the launch date can be the ideal time to throw a garden party and get everyone in on the fun.

Growing vegetables and planting your own garden has become a more popular pastime in recent years, and it can be easier than you think to get your very own community garden started. If you’re looking to buy a home in a garden-friendly new community, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 7, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on pending home sales, construction spending. Several reports related to employment were also posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Pending Home Sales Rise as Construction Spending Lags

Pending home sales rose by 1.50 percent to an index reading of 110.2 in June according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of homes under contract that have not yet closed regained positive territory after May’s negative reading of -0.70 percent. Pending sales were in negative territory for the past three months.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast posted a gain of 0.70 percent, which was 3.40 percent higher than in June 2016. The Midwest region lost ground with a reading of -0.50 percent in June, but pending sales were 3.40 percent higher year-over-year. Pending home sales increased by 2.10 percent in the Southern region, which was 2.60 percent higher year-over-year. Although the Western region posted a month-to-month pending home sales gain of 2.90 percent for June, pending home sales were 1.10 percent lower year-over-year.

The west has enjoyed a run on rapid home price growth due to slim supplies of homes for sale and high demand for homes in popular metro areas. June’s lower year-over-year reading could signal that home prices have maxed out and low inventory of homes isn’t providing potential buyers with enough choices given higher home prices.

Construction Spending Slows, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Real estate pros again cited the shortage of available homes as driving high home prices and creating high competition for homes on the market. These conditions can make homeownership difficult for first-time and moderate- income buyers. Despite pressure on home builders to increase construction, the Commerce Department reported lower construction spending in June. Spending was lower by -1.10 percent against expectations of 0.40 percent growth based on May’s flat reading.

Mortgage rates were little changed last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were three basis points lower at 3.15 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

Weekly Jobless Claims, Unemployment Rate Fall

New jobless claims fell to 20,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 244,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 245,000 initial jobless claims filed. Readings for Non-Farm Payrolls were lower at 209,000 private and public-sector jobs created.in July. Analysts expected 175,0000 new jobs based on June’s reading of 231,000 jobs. ADP Payrolls reported 178,000 private sector jobs created in July as compared to June’s reading of 191,000 new jobs created.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.30 percent as expected and was lower than June’s reading of 4.40 percent. Lower unemployment readings suggest that fewer people are seeking full-time work.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, inflation and core inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.