Latest Posts

Let's Talk Buyer Qualification: How to Ensure You Sell Your Home to the Right Buyer

Are you listing your home for sale? If so, it is time to get ready to meet with buyers and their real estate agents. And while you surely want to sell your home as quickly as possible, you will also want to do your homework to make sure you're selling to the right person. Let's explore the process of buyer qualification and why it's important to do a little digging into potential buyers of your home. Is Your Buyer Pre-Approved For Mortgage Financing? First, you'll want to check with your buyer to see if they are approved for mortgage financing. The last thing you want is to agree to an offer only to have the buyer rescind it because they can't afford your home. If the buyer is not already approved, suggest that they take that additional step before submitting their offer. Otherwise, you may end up experiencing significant delays in the closing process. Ensure Your Buyer Has Their Earnest Money Ready Next, you'll want to check with your buyer to make sure that they have their earnest money ready. These funds are a deposit, typically one or two percent of the purchase price, which is held in escrow once you accept the buyer's offer. Earnest money is a way for the buyer to prove to you that they are serious about purchasing your home. Once they have placed the deposit down, you can safely ignore other offers and be confident that the buyer intends to close. Note that the terms of your agreement should ensure that if the buyer backs out of the deal, you get to keep some or all of their earnest money. This is especially important if you're fielding multiple offers for your home as you may lose the chance to sell if the buyer backs out. Be Wary Of Offers That Seem Too Good To Be True If an offer seems too good to be true, that may just be the case. Be wary of any offers that are significantly more than your asking price, or if the buyer is willing to buy your home without so much as an inspection. Rest assured that any serious buyer is going to do their due diligence to ensure they're getting a good deal. Buyer qualification is a bit of a process, but it's an important step that ensures your home sale goes smoothly. When you're ready to list your home for sale, give us a call. Our professional real estate team will be happy to assist you with finding the right buyer.

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Landlord Squeezing You for yet Another Rent Increase? It's Time to Buy a Starter Home

Did you just get your annual notice that the rent is going up? If so, you're not alone. Millions of renters are seeing more and more of their income drained away due to higher rents. To make matters worse, every dollar in rent is one that you are not saving, investing or using to build your net worth. If you're feeling the pinch of higher rents, it might be time to buy your first starter home.

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

Are you planning on using a mortgage to help cover the cost of a new home? If so, you will want to prepare your finances and figure out how you will manage all those wallet-draining monthly expenses. Let's take a look at how to run a quick financial health check to ensure you are ready to apply for a mortgage.

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Having Trouble Getting Buyers to Close? Your Pricing Might Be the Problem

Are you experiencing problems with selling your home? A slow sale is no fun, especially if you need a quick sale due to a move or for financial reasons. If you are having some trouble getting potential buyers to stick around, pricing might be the issue. Let's explore a few reasons why.

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Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's Why

Whether you're just out of college, recently married or simply haven't jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost. If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you'll need to have your finances in order. In today's post, we'll share a few key reasons why you'll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home. Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk. Note that having a low score doesn't necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you're still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage. Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you're presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate. You'll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues Finally, you'll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren't perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders. As you can see, it's worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you're ready to discuss buying your first home, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us today and we'll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

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Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement Project

Have you been scratching your head, wondering what your next great home renovation project should be? If you are like most homeowners, you have many areas that could use a little attention. Let's explore three reasons why installing solar panels should be high on your list of home improvement projects for 2018.

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Can I Buy a Piece of Land and Build a House on It with a Mortgage? Yes -- Here's How

Have you been hunting for a new house without finding one that suits your needs? If so, one option that you may want to consider is building a new construction home on a choice piece of land. In today's blog post we will explore a few different mortgage options for those who are looking to build a brand-new home.

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Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a Mortgage

Are you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range? Let's take a quick look at the difference between being 'prequalified' and 'preapproved' for mortgage financing. The Process Starts With Prequalification The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone. Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There's no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don't get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved. Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate. Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and preapproval process will go. Have you found the home of your dreams? Our team of mortgage professionals is ready to help you finance it. Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you with getting both prequalified and approved for a mortgage.

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Buying a Rental Property? These 4 Key Tips Will Ensure You Buy One That Turns a Profit

Are you starting to grow bored of watching your money go nowhere sitting in a bank account? With today's interest rates doing little to encourage saving, many individuals are looking elsewhere for new investment opportunities. In today's blog post we'll share four essential tips for buying a profitable rental property. Let's get started.

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You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today's post, we'll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let's get started! Title Insurance Costs You're almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you'll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether there are any liens on the property. Mortgage Underwriting Fees Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there's an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the 'origination fee' or included within it. The Closing Fee As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final 'closing' of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you. Legal And Attorney's Fees Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you'll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction. Other Miscellaneous Costs Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment. While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won't even notice most of these fees. For more information about mortgage fees or to apply for financing, contact our friendly team of mortgage professionals today. We're happy to help.

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

Are you in the market for a new house? In a buyer's market, finding and closing on a beautiful home can seem very easy. However, if you are shopping when the market is hot, you may end up fighting bidding wars and losing your dream home to a competing buyer. Let's take a look at four tips that you will need to be successful when house hunting in a hot local real estate market.

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3 Ways That Buying a New Construction Home Beats Buying an Existing One, Every Time

Are you in the market for a new house? Whether you are a first-time home buyer or are upgrading to get more space, you will need to choose between buying an existing home or building a brand new one. As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. But if it is in your budget, you may want to lean towards a newer home over an older one. Let's explore three reasons why new construction homes are better than existing homes.

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The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Is it time to move on from your house, townhouse or condo? If a sale is in your near future, you will want to start looking for a professional selling agent or broker to help manage the process. Let's take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the best real estate agent to handle your home sale. Check Your Social Network The easiest place to is your social network, as almost everyone knows a real estate agent. Get a post up on Facebook sharing that you are about to sell your home and you're looking for the very best agent to help you sell it. Maybe an old high school acquaintance or college friend is now in the real estate business and can help. Ask Your Friends And Family For Referrals If you aren't close with a trustworthy real estate agent, the next best people to ask are your local friends and family. It is unlikely that you're going to get a bad referral from your best friend, brother or aunt. Send out a few text messages and make a few calls to let the family know that you're hunting for a great real estate agent. Soon enough, you'll have some recommendations. Check Their Designations And Specialties You might not know this, but real estate agents have specialties and designations available to certify in. Aside from becoming a REALTOR®, your agent may be a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer's Representative, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and more. Be Sure To Read Reviews And Talk To Past Clients When you've made a short list of your final choices for a selling agent, it's time to check on their recent work. Ask the agent for a list of houses or other properties that they've sold recently. If possible, you'll also want to socialize with some of their past clients to see what the agent is like. You'll be working closely together for at least a couple of weeks, so it's important that you choose a real estate professional that you're comfortable with. Selling your home is not a painful process, but it's one where you'll want to have the best agent working to protect your interests. If you're thinking about making a move, contact our real estate team. We are happy to share our experience in the local market and some of the homes that we've recently sold.

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3 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect for the Allergy-Prone Pet Lover

Do you find yourself itchy and sneezing after an encounter with a friendly, furry dog? You are not alone. The CDC estimates that around ten percent of Americans suffer from allergies related to dogs or cats. But, of course, that is no reason not to enjoy the love of a dog. So, if you are ready to push your suffering aside and adopt a furry pal, below are a few breeds that are perfect for those prone to allergies.

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Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale Yourself

Are you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let's take a quick look at three great reasons why you won't want to handle the sale yourself. You Won't Save As Much As You Think Let's start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It's true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn't going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you're paying commission is that you're contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you'll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house. So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you're going to be burning a lot of your time. If you're already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more over the long run. A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor's? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is "above average," which is of course statistically impossible. When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent's objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving. Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you're going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it's likely that your home is not the only one they're viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner. These are just a few of the reasons you won't want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact our real estate team today.

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It's Pre-approval Time: How to Get Your Finances for Your Mortgage Approval

Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences a person or family can have. Of course, before you can step foot into your new dream home you will need to get prepared financially, especially if you are taking out a mortgage to cover some of the purchase price. Let's look at a few key steps that will help you to prepare for the financial background checks that are part of the mortgage process. Square Up With The Government The first place you'll want to start is making sure that you are fully caught up on any income or other taxes. Rest assured that your lender will be checking your financial history and being behind on government payments is a significant red flag. Make a quick call to the IRS or visit them online to check on your status and verify that you're fully paid up. Scrub Your Credit History Clean Next, you will want to check in with the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Your credit or FICO score is an important indicator that suggests your risk level and credit worthiness. However, any unpaid or delinquent amounts on your report are equally as important as they signal that you may have skipped out on debts in the past. Check for any red flags on your credit report and work with the agencies to get them challenged or removed Get Your Down Payment Saved Up You'll also want to have your down payment amount saved and ready for use. Your mortgage lender will want to know how much of your savings you're contributing to the overall purchase price. Also, if you're committing less than 20 percent down you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Have All Your Paperwork Ready Finally, check in with your mortgage lender to find out what paperwork you'll need to bring in for your approval meeting. Recent W-2 or tax returns, pay stubs and financial asset information is a good place to start. Your lender may have other requirements so check in to find out what's needed or give us a call and we can share some insight. These are just a few of the tasks that you'll complete on the path to securing your mortgage financing and buying your new home. For more information on the mortgage process or to start your pre-approval, contact us today.

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3 Completely False Myths About Reverse Mortgages That Need to Be Debunked

Are you a senior or retired individual older than 62 who are looking to supplement their retirement income? If so, you may have heard about a unique financial product known as a reverse mortgage. In today's blog post we will explore three myths about reverse mortgages and share why they need to be debunked. Let's get started.

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VA Loan Limits Increased for 2018

There was a big announcement in December from the VA. The conforming loan limit for 2018 increased $29,000, setting the new limit at $453,100 for most parts of the country. This is the second increase seen since 2006. This means a buyer using their VA loan benefit can purchase a home up to $453,100 in most parts of the country without making a down payment.

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You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Home or Buy an Existing One?

Are you looking to buy a new house in the near future? If so, one of the choices you will face is constructing your own brand-new home or buying an existing home. The idea of building a new house on the right piece of land might sound enticing, but what if you could have a larger, more luxurious existing home in the same neighborhood for a much lower cost? As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. In today's blog post we will explore whether you should build a new home or buy an existing one. Building Your Ultimate Dream Home Let's get the obvious out of the way first. If you can afford the combined cost of the land, the house and all of the furnishings, then building a new home is an amazing experience. It is the chance to completely customize everything about your home, right down to having your family put their handprints in the foundation. You will be able to design the garage, media room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and everything else exactly the way you want it. The house will truly feel "yours," as it's built in your vision. Aside from the higher cost, there are other potential downsides to building a new home. Between permits, booking contractors, wrapping up all of the necessary paperwork and construction time, building a new home can be stressful. It can also take much longer than buying an existing home outright. Well-Kept Existing Homes Have Lots Of Upside  Buying an existing home has its upsides as well. It's almost certainly going to be a much faster process than trying to build your own home from scratch. As long as you can find suitable listings, you can typically purchase and move into an existing home within a few weeks. You can also customize it to your liking, although not to the extent that you would with brand-new construction. It's also likely to be less expensive, although that depends on a variety of factors including the city you're buying in, the real estate market, the size of the home and more. In the end, the choice comes down to budget, timing and personal preference. However, whether you decide to build new or you are okay with a lovely home that already exists, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us at your convenience and we'll be happy to share local home and land listings that suit your needs and budget. We look forward to meeting you!

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Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to Do

Whether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out for a few years, there's a good chance you're carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation's graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community. So – are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let's run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease. Start A Budget And Embrace Using It  The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down. Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it. Check In With An Expert Advisor If all of this seems confusing, you're not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you'll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options. Reach Out To Friends And Family Don't forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They'll be a great source of information. In closing, while past student loan and other debts can crimp one's finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information and to view affordable starter home options in the area, contact us today. Our professional team of real estate advisors is happy to help.

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Understanding 'Bridge' Financing: How to Buy a New Home Before You Sell Your Current One

One of the biggest challenges a homeowner can face when looking to upgrade or move is trying to sell their current home while buying another. If most of your net worth or equity is locked up in your current house, you will need to move it into cash to help fund the purchase of your new home. The alternative is to wait until your home is sold and you receive the funds before trying to buy a new one – but you could end up waiting for months. The great news is that there are bridge financing options available to homeowners which can help to get things moving. Let's take a look at how a bridge loan works and how it can help you to buy a new home before your sale is finalized. How Does A Bridge Loan Work? First, it is important to note that a bridge loan isn't the same as your mortgage loan for your new home. Instead, when you take out bridge financing, you'll borrow against the equity that you've built up in your current home. You'll then be able to use these funds to help cover the costs involved with closing on your new house. Then, when you sell your old home, you'll use part of the proceeds of that to pay off your bridge loan. The main benefit you'll get from this approach is a bit of extra time and flexibility in selling your home. Instead of having to accept a low offer or rush into a sale, you'll have a bit of breathing room to take the best offer when the time is right. Try To Avoid Making A Contingent Offer Your bridge financing can also help you to make the winning bid and close on your new home faster. One piece of advice that some real estate agents and other experts have shared is to avoid making an offer on a new home that is contingent on selling your current home. This is especially true if you are buying in a hot real estate market where there are other buyers competing against you for the same home. If you're already funded, you can submit an offer to buy the home as soon as the seller is ready. As you can see, taking out a bridge loan against the equity of your current home is a great way to cover the costs of buying a new home. For more information about how bridge financing works and how you can pair it up with a mortgage for a new house or condo, contact us today. Our team of mortgage advisors is happy to share financing options that fit your needs and budget.

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The Quick-and-Easy Guide to Getting Started With House Flipping

Investing in real estate is one of the oldest means of building and storing wealth. However, it is only just recently that "flipping" of houses – buying at a low price, renovating and selling at a higher price – became popular. For many, house flipping has become a full-time career and their primary source of income. So, are you interested in learning what it takes to become a successful house flipper? Read on to learn more about this fun and exciting way to invest in real estate. Research Local Regulations And Legal Requirements The first thing you'll want to do is start researching the local regulations and requirements for house flippers. You can either go online and read through the laws or call up an experienced real estate agent and ask them. Either way, you need to know the rules of the game you're about to enter. Gathering The Resources You'll Need Next, you'll want to gather your resources – both financial and human. You will, of course, need to have some cash set aside for a down payment, or for buying houses outright. At minimum, you will also need a real estate agent, a mortgage professional and a real estate attorney. You may also need contractors to help you with renovations unless you have the skills and experience necessary for this. How To Assess Potential Investment Properties Successful house flippers develop an eye for undervalued properties. Your goal is to find a home that is listed low but has a lot of room for improvement. The fundamentals of the property – its location, the size of the land, the home's foundation, etc. – should be good. You will also want to get good at sourcing out homeowners that are willing to sell but haven't listed their home yet. If you can secure a private sale, you're going to save money and avoid having to bid against other flippers. Making Your First Flip You've built your team, learned the rules and have started to hunt for listings. Now, you need to decide and make your move. As foreclosure rates have trended down recently, it can be hard to find the perfect opportunity. However, as this is your first flip, your goals should be centered on learning the flipping process without losing any money. Keep an open mind and don't worry about trying to score big. Instead, buy the right home, renovate to add value and relist quickly so you can move on. When you're ready to start your search for flip-ready properties, we're here to help. Contact our professional real estate team and we'll share a variety of local home listings that will be able to provide a healthy return.

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3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

Whether you're tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let's explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate. Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it's worth asking yourself both what you 'need' in a home and what you 'want' in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options. Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home's value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes. Talk with a local real estate agent professional who can help you understand what the current market is like. If you are in a buyer's market, it might be the right time to make a move. Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow Finally, when you're ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn't fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn't be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you're prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful. The above are just a handful of the many tips that an experienced real estate agent professional can share to help a first-time buyer navigate the process. When you're ready to buy your first home, contact us and we'll be happy to help.

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

Are you making an offer on a new home in a hot housing market? If so, one possibility is that you are going to end up bidding against other buyers who are looking to buy the same home. Unfortunately, in some cases bidding wars are inevitable, and they can be a significant source of stress. Let's take a look at three ways that you can win a bidding war without having to spend more than you can afford. Price Is Important, But It's Not Everything The first consideration to keep in mind is that price is important, but it isn't the sole consideration that sellers make when deciding which offer to choose. In fact, for many home sellers, the price is secondary to a variety of other factors. For example, consider whether or not the sellers need to close quickly. Perhaps they are moving to a new city, or have already bought a new house and are looking to get out of their old one. If you have your mortgage financing pre-approved and your paperwork in order, you can promise a shorter close than other buyers may be able to provide. Have A Face-To-Face Conversation With The Listing Agent It's worth investing the time in a sit-down chat with the seller's real estate agent to find out what their motivations are. Are they selling for the money, are they moving, are they under pressure or just getting rid of the house to make an upgrade? All are factors that you can use to your advantage in a bidding war. Another great tip: be sure to find out where the sellers plan to live once they sell their home. If they want to stay in the house, you may be able to buy it and lease it back to them. That's a difficult offer to refuse. Be Flexible, But Be Firm  Finally, keep in mind that you will need to be flexible to win a bidding war, but you should remain firm. Don't bend your offer or terms too much. If you table a great offer and still lose the bidding war, that's life. You can move on and find another great home to live in. If you are in a hot real estate market, it's a good idea to mentally prepare for a bidding war when you submit an offer on a new home. For more insight or to find out how much mortgage financing you qualify for, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team will be happy to meet with you and show you how you can purchase your dream house or condo.

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Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer Them

Are you listing your home for sale now, or in the near future? If so, you have probably come to terms with the fact that soon you'll be having strangers tour through your home asking all kinds of questions about it. In today's blog post we'll take a look at three strange questions that buyers might ask and how to approach answering them. "Has Anyone Died In This House Or Is It Haunted?" You might have chuckled when you read that, but questions about paranormal activity are more common than you think. Many people have beliefs and superstitions about ghosts, ghouls, demons and other spirits that haunt homes. Learning that someone has died in your house – even if it was long before you owned the place – is enough for some potential buyers to pass and move on to the next listing. "Is Anything Buried In The Backyard?" Have you ever owned a pet that has grown old or otherwise perished? Think back to that experience and ask yourself: where did you bury them? Many families bury deceased pets in their backyard, thinking that it is a good final resting place. And that may be true if you own the house for the rest of your life. However, if you decide to sell, then you have passed on a backyard that has a corpse resting in it. That can end up as a startling surprise for the next family to live there, especially if they have a dog that enjoys digging up the turf. "Have There Been Any Infestations?" Asking about pest problems is a bit less on the weird side of things, but it is one question that is almost certain to come up. Visitors will want to know if your home has experienced mice, rats, termites, ants, cockroaches and a variety of other plagues. Some of these will make sense for your home or the area you live – termites in a wood-framed house, for example – while others will make no sense at all. Rest assured that the above are just a handful of the many bizarre and strange questions you might get while showing your house to potential buyers. If you do encounter something that seems a bit funny, aim to be polite and answer thoughtfully. When you are ready to list your home for sale, or for more tips and real estate advice, contact us. Our professional real estate team is here to answer any questions you have.

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Real Estate 101: What Is a "Short Sale" And How Does It Work? Let's Take a Look

Are you a budding real estate investor who is on the hunt for great deals on local homes? If so, you have probably heard about "short sale" homes, although it can take a bit of searching to find one. Let's take a closer look at real estate short sales to learn how they work and when you might want to take advantage. What Is A Real Estate Short Sale? A real estate short sale takes place when a homeowner sells their home for less than they owe on it. This tends to take place in volatile real estate markets where a substantial price increase took place with a rapid price decrease following after. Whatever the case, the homeowner is now facing a home with less value than their mortgage. They may approach their lender about a short sale, or the lender may force it on them. A short sale can take place even if a homeowner is still making their monthly mortgage payments on time, although that is somewhat rare. Stick With The Pros When Buying A Short Sale Without question, if you are considering buying a short sale home you will want to work with an experienced real estate agent. Short sales take place due to a variety of circumstances, few of which are positive. You will want a real estate professional who knows the ins-and-outs of the short sale process and will protect your interests. They can also help you understand what happens with the outstanding debt on the property. Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Short Sale Home Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories about short sale buyers who made a poor decision when trying to score a great deal. First, ensure that all of the necessary research is done on the home, its title and any liens against it. A home inspection is also critical as there may be structural or other issues which led to the decline in value. Finally, be sure to leave enough time for the closing process as it can take longer than with a traditional home purchase. As you can see, short sales have their pros and cons. If you are the one selling the home, you have likely been forced into a short sale due to your circumstances. If you are the one buying the home, you may be able to swing a great deal on it. Again, due to the circumstances. Regardless, understanding how short sales work is a good idea. To learn more about local real estate short sales, give us a call today and we'll be happy to help.

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Mortgage 101: How Interest-Only Mortgages Work and Why They're A Good Solution for Some Buyers

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or an experienced real estate investor, if you are planning to borrow funds to buy a home you will want to choose the right mortgage product. In today's blog post we'll explore how interest-only mortgages work and why they're the perfect choice for some homebuyers. How Interest-Only Mortgages Differ From Conventional Ones As the name suggests, interest-only mortgages are loans where you are only required to pay off the interest portion of the loan each month for some specific term. The length of these loans can be up to ten years, although five or seven is the most common. Once this period is over, you will have some options. Some choose to refinance their mortgage into a new term; others will make a lump-sum payment to pay off the balance. The most important item of note is that during the interest-only period, no principal is paid off unless you pay a bit extra. The Pros And Cons Of Interest-Only Mortgages Interest-only mortgages are a popular choice because of their many upsides. Your monthly payments are almost certainly going to be far lower during the interest-only period. This is because you're not responsible for paying down the principal of the loan. A lower monthly payment frees up money that you can use for other purposes, such as investing. Also, your entire monthly payment during the interest-only period should be tax deductible, which may contribute to a refund each year. Note that there are some potential downsides to interest-only mortgages as well. For example, if your mortgage interest rate is adjustable, you can end up paying more in interest than if you had locked in. You also need to stay disciplined financially. Once the interest-only period ends, your monthly payment may increase significantly to cover both interest and principal. Who Should Consider An Interest-Only Mortgage? Interest-only mortgages are a good fit for those individuals or families where you are confident that your income is going to grow significantly in five or ten years. Alternatively, if your income is somewhat sporadic and you want the option of paying lower payments in some months and more substantial payments in others. The key point is that these mortgages offer flexibility that other mortgage products do not. As you can see, interest-only mortgages are an excellent choice in certain circumstances. To learn more about how an interest-only mortgage might be right for you, contact our professional mortgage team today. We are happy to share our experience to find mortgage financing that perfectly suits your needs.

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Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an App

Are you currently house-hunting or plan to be in the near future? If you plan on using mortgage financing to pay for your home, you will soon discover that there's no shortage of options available to you. You can meet with a local mortgage professional, apply for mortgages online and even download mobile apps that promise to set you up with a mortgage. However, is every option equal? Let's explore why, in the epic battle of man versus machine, you will want to place your trust in a human mortgage professional. Human Mortgage Professionals Have Local Experience The first and most important reason you will want to work with a human mortgage professional is their understanding of the local real estate market. While you are likely to be working with a real estate agent, your mortgage advisor is another pair of eyes-and-ears that can help to keep your home purchase on the right path. They are also working regularly with many local clients and can share insight and information that no website or app will be able to come up with. A Human Can Appreciate Your Unique Financial Situation Online and app-based mortgage technology is… cold. Algorithms are processing the math and other hard facts about your financial history, with little consideration of you and your family as people. When you meet with a human mortgage advisor, you're speaking with someone who understands the challenges that regular people face. They have also worked with numerous other clients and can appreciate why certain circumstances may have come up in the past. A Human Will Go To Bat For You If Needed Finally, don't forget that a human mortgage professional is invested in your success. A mobile app isn't going to understand when it needs to go the "extra mile" to ensure that you get the financing you need. You can trust that a human will push for that extra bit of funding or those better repayment terms as they're on your side. The above are just a few of the many reasons that you will want to work with a human mortgage advisor rather than using a website or mobile app. Don't believe us? Give our professional (and human!) mortgage team a call today. We will be happy to share our expertise and insight to ensure you get the best mortgage financing for your new home.

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Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Are you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you're looking for something luxurious or intimate, you'll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life's necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space? In today's blog post we'll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of "must-haves" for your new home. Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple  An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today's working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It's almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it's bursting at the seams, you're stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it! A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories  A walk-in closet isn't just for piling a ton of clothes into. It's a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year's Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off. Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island  Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you'll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don't forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house. These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you're ready to explore local real estate opportunities – including those with incredible walk-in closets – contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist.

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Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Are you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years, so it might be time to invest. In today's blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home. Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it's likely to be one of the older "set it and forget it" models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you're gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar? The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what's happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up. Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub If you're not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon's Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings. Don't forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported. Tip #3: If It's Easy To Use, You'll Use It Regularly Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you're unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone. Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you're ready to look at high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional real estate team is happy to show you around.

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5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let's run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter. Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It's time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area. Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold. Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it's likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they'll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring. Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts If you haven't used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home's heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn't heating on the first cold night! Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection Last but not least, don't forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you're not good with heights or don't own the proper equipment, don't sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead. The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact us today. Our real estate professionals can show you some "winterproof" options in the area.

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It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Investing in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let's take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them. Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city's website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost. Mistake #2: Being Afraid A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you're changing and improve it for the better. Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you're investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job. Also, don't be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn't visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it's an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you're making in upgrading your home. Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind As the old saying goes: "measure twice, cut once." Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change. These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator. If you're thinking about a major remodel, contact us first. Our real estate team can share which renovations have added value and equity to other local homes.

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How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

While it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won't stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today's article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy. Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you're able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit. Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren't left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier. Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you'll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you're buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you're unsure about this, contact us and we'll share some insight. Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It's Buying Time Finally, it's worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay. Don't get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the mortgage financing process and to discuss your options, contact our team of professional advisors today. We're here to help.

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Current Servicemember or Veteran? 4 Reasons Why a VA Home Loan Is an Excellent Choice

Are you current or former member of the US military service who is looking to buy a new home? If so, you will be pleased to know that there are some special mortgage programs that are open to you. Let's take a look at five reasons why a mortgage backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs is an excellent choice when buying your new home.  You Can Borrow Up To 100% Of The Home's Value  You read that correctly! VA-backed mortgages are available to you even if you choose to put no money towards your down payment. This can be a huge benefit for those individuals and families who are looking to buy a new home but don't have a large chunk of cash on hand to fund the down payment. Instead, you can work with your VA mortgage advisor to get financing for the entire purchase price of your home. You Can Qualify For A 'Jumbo' Loan Depending on the real estate market in your city, the size of home you need and how luxurious you want it, you may need a larger mortgage. The great news is that there are 'jumbo' options available with VA-backed home loans. In some cases, you may qualify for over $1 million in mortgage financing, which is likely to put most homes in your area within reach. You Can Avoid Mortgage Insurance Fees Home buyers using a conventional mortgage with less than 20 percent down are typically required to buy private mortgage insurance or "PMI." However, this is not a requirement with VA-backed mortgages. If you qualify for a VA home loan, this can save you a significant amount of money over the loan's term.  You Can Accelerate Your Payments At No Cost If you decide that you want to pay your VA mortgage off a bit faster by accelerating your payments, you can do so without incurring fees or penalties. For example, if you are gifted a large sum of money or have a significant income tax return, you can contribute that amount directly against your mortgage. These are just a few of the many great reasons to explore using a VA-backed mortgage to fund your next home purchase. For more information about VA home loans and to see if you qualify, contact us today. Our professional team of mortgage advisors is ready to assist.

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Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble

Are you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a "fixer upper," older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you're thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced. Let's take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you're thinking about buying an older house. Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard No matter when a home was built, it's almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date. Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected. Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough? While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It's worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up. While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn't meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you're diligent in checking out the home's history and invest in a professional inspection, you'll stay safe. When you're ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our professional real estate team. We're happy to show you around.

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Buying a New Home? Four Key Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Advisor

Are you in the market for a new home? If you are planning on borrowing some or most of the home's purchase price, you'll want to prepare yourself for the mortgage process. Let's take a look at four key questions that you will want to ask your mortgage professional when you first meet to discuss your home loan. What's The Best Mortgage Option For Me? As you probably know, there is a wide variety of mortgage loan options and programs on the market today. You may qualify for a number of mortgage loans along with certain government programs or specialty mortgages. Your mortgage advisor will be able to share the pros and cons of each type of mortgage loan so you can decide which option best suits you. What Interest Rate And Amortization Period Fit My Budget? Next, you'll want to determine what loan term and interest rate combine to produce a monthly payment that fits your budget. For example, in some cases, you may prefer a lower interest rate over a longer amortization period like 15 or 20 years, which can reduce the amount you pay each month. Conversely, you may decide that you want to pay the loan down faster and take a shorter term with a slightly higher interest rate. What Fees And Closing Costs Will I Incur? When you borrow a mortgage to buy a home, you will inevitably incur some additional costs and fees. Some are connected to the home itself, such as home inspection or home appraisal fees. Others are due to the mortgage and might include loan origination fees or discount points that you choose to buy to lower your interest rate. Your mortgage advisor will be able to give you an honest assessment of what fees you'll need to pay and which you can potentially avoid. What Documents And Paperwork Do I Need To Prepare? Finally, you'll want to get an idea of what documents and other paperwork that you'll need to prepare. Your mortgage lender will require a number of items to verify your income, credit history and for risk assessment purposes. This might include past income tax forms, pay stubs, bank statements or other materials if you're self-employed. These are just a few of the talking points you'll want to cover when you first meet your mortgage advisor. For more information about the mortgage process and to get things started, contact us today. Our mortgage team is happy to share our insight and answer any questions you might have.

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62 or Older? 3 Reasons Why a Reverse Mortgage Might Be the Perfect Financial Solution for You

Are you and your spouse starting to move into your retirement years? If so, you already know that you are going to need a solid financial plan for when your primary sources of income are no longer bringing money in. If you have invested in your retirement, you might be all set. However, what if your house makes up the majority of your net worth? Let's take a quick look at three reasons why a reverse mortgage might be a great way to unlock the equity you've built up in your home. Reason #1: This Is Your Last Home To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you have to own your home or be very close to paying off any outstanding mortgage debt. A reverse mortgage is money borrowed against the equity in your home, which is considered collateral. So, if staying in this house is your long-term plan, then a reverse mortgage should be a good fit. Note that it is not impossible to buy a new home or move when you have a reverse mortgage. You simply have to pay the outstanding balance as with any other loan or mortgage product. Reason #2: You Don't Plan On Leaving Your House To Anyone It is important to note that when you or your spouse dies, your reverse mortgage becomes due. In most circumstances, the house is either sold or transferred to cover the outstanding amount of the mortgage. This means that anyone inheriting the house is going to inherit the reverse mortgage as well, leaving them responsible for the outstanding balance. If you do not have any children, or if they are already financially stable and not in need of an inheritance, you may not have to leave your house to anyone. This makes a reverse mortgage a good source of extra cash. Reason #3: You Can Afford Taxes And Upkeep Finally, don't forget that with a reverse mortgage, you are still responsible for taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Falling behind on these items can cause your reverse mortgage to become repayable immediately. If you can afford these costs without having to stretch, then you're in good shape. If you are looking to make more of your home equity as a financial asset and both you and your spouse are 62 or older, reverse mortgages are an excellent idea. To learn more about these financial products and your options, contact us today. Our professional team of mortgage advisors is happy to show you why a reverse mortgage is a good fit.

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4 Things You Should Never, Ever Say If You Hope to Sell Your Home

Have you ever had a conversation with a total stranger where you said something that you regret? If you are placing your house or condo on the market, you're eventually going to end up having to chat with potential buyers. Yes, your real estate agent is likely to do most of the talking. However, you will still have to deal with buyers that want to grill you about the home's history, condition and more. With that in mind, let's have a look at four things you should never say to someone who is interested in buying your home. "We're Not Accepting Offers Less Than…" A good way to kill your sale and have a buyer walk away is to set a price floor on bids and offers. Even if the amount you are asking for is reasonable, many buyers will pass because they are offended that they're being forced to bid above a certain price. Unless otherwise advised by your agent, it is best to let buyers feel in control of the offer process. You can always counter-offer later. "Our House Has Been On The Market For…" Stating how long your house has been on the market is rarely a good look. No matter how short or long the listing period has gone on for, buyers don't need to know this. Moreover, if your home has been on the market for months, knowing that may scare potential buyers off. "We've Always Meant To Renovate That…" If you were going to fix, improve or even clean something in your home, you probably would have done it before inviting potential buyers in. Your goal is to present the house you do have in the best possible light. Try to avoid pointing out areas that a buyer is going to need to renovate or invest in later. "We Need To Close The Sale By…" The last thing you want to do is look desperate to close the sale and move on. Buyers and their agents are going to be looking for signs of weakness which will allow them to submit low-ball offers for your home. If you let on that you have to sell or move by some deadline, you can rest assured that you are not going to get as much when you sell. There you have it – four of the (many) things you should not say to potential buyers of your home. For more tips and advice about selling your home, contact our professional real estate team today. We are happy to help.

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4 Home Staging Ideas That Are Heavy on the "Wow" Factor but Light on the Wallet

Staging is one of the most important aspects of any home sale. The more attractive your home is to potential buyers, the faster you can finalize the sale and move on. With that in mind, let's explore four home staging ideas that won't cost a fortune but are sure to impress your buyers. #1: Clean The Place Until It Shines The first and most obvious option is not going to cost much more than your time. Your home needs to be absolutely, positively spotless. The floors should be so clean that you would have no issue with eating off of them. The walls should be clean and free of marks. Windows and mirrors buffed to a sparkling shine. If there's dirt to be found, rest assured that potential buyers will see it! #2: Buy New Slip Covers And Sheet Sets If your furniture is starting to look a little dated, you can spruce it up by investing in new slip covers. These can be color matched to the rest of the room's palette so that your furniture fits in. It is also a great idea to ensure that you have new-looking, matching sheet sets on all of the beds. The bedrooms don't need to look like hotel rooms, but they do need to look good. #3: Invest In Better Lighting For Important Rooms When was the last time you replaced the bulbs in your fixtures and lamps? If you are still using dull older incandescent bulbs, it's time to invest in newer LED or compact fluorescent lighting. It is best to try to match the color temperature of the bulbs to the rest of the room so that the room's color and 'feel' don't clash with the lighting. If this is a bit above your head, consider having a lighting expert come in to help light the important, high-traffic areas. #4: Use Plants To Add A Bit Of Warmth And Life Finally, if your home is lacking a bit of plant life, it might be time to take a quick trip to the local nursery. Adding one or two plants to your common areas adds a touch of life and even helps to keep the air fresh. If you prefer a pop of color, you can always add a flowering plant that's currently in bloom. Spending a few hours and a few dollars on staging is an investment that will pay off immensely when you sell your home. If you are thinking about listing your home for sale, or for more staging tips, contact our real estate team. We are happy to share our experience and help get your home sold quickly at a great price.

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3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our Homes

Are you ready for the coming shift to driverless cars? While it might seem like some sort of futuristic vision, the truth is that driverless vehicles will be on the road within a few short years. Let's explore three key ways that driverless cars are going to help to shape how we think about our homes in the very near future. #1: Goodbye, Garages It might seem a bit strange to think about now, but many people are likely to get rid of their cars entirely. Car ownership is expected to shift to entrepreneurs and services who offer vehicles for on-demand use. We are already starting to see this transition take place, especially with city dwellers who are getting used to Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. So, if you do not own a car, having a garage attached to your house does not make much sense. Consider the many uses that a family can get from the space currently occupied by a garage full of cars. Your house footprint can be that much bigger, or you can convert that area into more yard space. #2: Get Used To Smaller Streets And More Efficient Land Use The second significant change you are going to see is a complete re-imagining of how we design and use our streets. Fewer people will own cars that need to be parked along the side of the street. Also, self-driving cars can move elsewhere for storage when they're not needed. This combination will allow city planners to thin streets, freeing up land use for bike lanes, boulevards or larger yard areas. If you are the type that enjoys having a beautiful big front lawn, the coming shift to driverless cars will benefit you. #3: More Space Means More Green Space Finally, expect to see a lot more green space around your house in the future. You will have more space for landscaping, flower beds, gardens, trees and other yard fixtures. Even if you do end up owning a driverless car in the future, it's likely to be electric. The most substantial commitment you will need to make is either a charging plug and wall fixture or a large ground pad that the car sits on when it needs to top off the batteries. There are few who doubt that driverless cars are going to cause a major shift in how we live, work and move from place to place. If you're looking to take advantage of this shift when you buy your next home, contact us. Our team of real estate professionals will be happy to share excellent home listings that will be perfect for those looking to change how they use their car.

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Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

It's not common for many a homeowner to struggle with making their monthly mortgage payment. However, simply because it can seem hard to come up with the funds monthly doesn't mean it's not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you're wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

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Budgeting 101: How to Plan Your Budget Around Your Monthly Mortgage Payments

If you've decided to invest in a home, you might be wondering how to make all the expenses work from the groceries to your mode of transportation to all those little things that quickly add up. Fortunately, it's easy enough to ensure you have the money each month by calculating your expenses and ensuring there's a little wiggle room in the leaner times. Here are the details on how to begin with your mortgage budgeting plan. 

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