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April 5, 2017

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Trim Your Mortgage Closing Costs by Following This Easy 3 Step Guide

Trim Your Mortgage Closing Costs by Following This Easy 3 Step GuideYou may be so busy with determining your debt-to-income ratio and deciding what kind of offer to make that closing costs have gotten lost in the mix, but it’s important to remember that finalizing your mortgage will cost you extra. While there’s no way to get around paying money to solidify your mortgage, there are a few steps you can take in order to make it more economical for you.

Shop Around For A Lender

Many people go with the lender that is offered to them, but it’s a good idea to do the research so you can find the deal that’s right for you. Instead of sticking with one option, look into the closing costs for a handful of well-reviewed lenders that have been on the market for at least a few years. While it takes more than a list of fees to make the right decision, it will give you a good sense of the true cost of your mortgage and can help you make a more informed choice.

Be Prepared To Negotiate

There are people who are comfortable with negotiation and those who are not, but if you want a better deal it’s worth discussing it with your lender. While there are a number of third-party fees that are non-negotiable, many of the fees that lenders charge can be so you’ll want to get a list of what they charge and what they might be willing to budge on. It’s unlikely you’ll get everything you ask for, but it doesn’t hurt to ask in the event that it leads to substantial savings.

Review Your Loan Estimate

You have the ability to call off your mortgage at any time up until you’ve signed on the dotted line, so ensure you’ve read through the paperwork and understand your closing costs clearly. If there’s anything you’re uncertain about or any cost you weren’t made aware of, it’s imperative to address it with the lender before signing. This will be the last chance you’ll have to negotiate and go over everything so the lender may be a little more flexible on any final hesitation.

There are a number of costs associated with home ownership, but it’s important not to forget about the final closing costs as these can greatly impact the total cost of your home. If you’re currently getting prepared to purchase a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

April 4, 2017

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It’s Tax Time: Learn How Buying a New Home Can Help to Reduce Your Tax Burden

It's Tax Time: Learn How Buying a New Home Can Help to Reduce Your Tax BurdenMost people do not look forward to tax time, whether they get money back or not, but as a homeowner there are a lot of things you can do that will help to reduce your taxes and get you a refund. If you’re getting prepared to invest in a home and are wondering how it can benefit you, here are some deductions you’ll want to watch out for.

Minimizing Mortgage Interest

One of the best benefits of having a home is that you can actually deduct mortgage interest at tax time and save considerable money as a result. While the amount you receive will depend on your interest rates and the type of loan you have, this can make a significant dent in the amount of your monthly payment when all’s said and done.

Deducting Property Tax

Property tax is another fee that comes along with home ownership, and it can be a rather debilitating amount depending on where you live. While you have the ability to deduct this amount on your primary residence, you also have the option of doing this if you happen to own a vacation home. This is not only a benefit for money savings, but can be a boon for future home investment too.

Capital Gains Credit

Many people stay in a home for a few years and then invest in something larger, and the Capital Gains Exclusion is a great way to take advantage of tax-free profits on your home. While you’ll have to live in the primary residence for at least two years to take advantage of this deduction, you will not have to pay any capital gains tax up to a certain amount.

Line Of Credit Reduction

If you happen to have either a line of credit or a home equity loan, you can also deduct the interest off the amount paid for a refund on your taxes. In addition to the lower rates provided by these loans, you can also save on interest when tax time comes around, making it a considerable benefit.

Most people do not look forward to doing their taxes, but if you’re a new homeowner you may not be aware that there are many financial benefits associated with buying a home. If you’re currently considering home ownership and are wondering about other ways it can benefit you, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

April 3, 2017

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 3, 2017

Last week’s economic news included Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, pending home sales, and consumer confidence readings. Weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Higher in January

According to Case-Shiller reports released last Tuesday, average home prices increased in January. The national average home price rose 0.20 percent from December to January; year over year, home prices grew by 5.90 percent. Home prices were 0.90 percent higher on a month-to-month basis when seasonally adjusted. The West continued to dominate home price growth. Seattle, Washington reported 11.20 percent growth in home prices year-over-year. Portland, Oregon reported year-over-year home price growth of 9.70 percent and Denver, Colorado reported that home prices grew by 9.20 percent year-over-year.

San Francisco, which posted double-digit home price growth in recent months, posted year-over-year home price growth of 6.20 percent. Home prices declined 0.40 percent month-to-month. While short supplies of homes for sale continued to drive up home prices, slower home price growth rates in San Francisco, California posted fell by 0.40 percent month to month and were 6.30 percent higher year-over-year. San Francisco posted double-digit year-over-year growth in recent months; slower home price growth over a period of months could signal a cooling of red-hot home prices in high-demand markets.

The three cities with lowest home price growth rates were Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, DC, where home prices rose 3.90 percent year-over-year. New-York City posted a year-over-year gain of 3.20 percent.

Pending Home Sales Rebound in February, Mortgage Rates Drop

The National Association of Realtors® said that pending home sales reached their second highest reading in ten years. Pending home sales rose 5.50 percent in February as compared to January’s negative reading of -2.80 percent. The Pending Home Sales Index rose to 112.30 in February as compared to January’s reading of 106.40. Unseasonably warm weather, home buyers rushing to buy before mortgage rates and home prices go higher. Improved jobs markets and few layoffs were also seen as boosting consumer confidence in buying homes.

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis points to 4.14 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.18 points. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Lower mortgage rates could help first-time buyers who’ve been sidelined due to rapidly increasing home prices and mortgage rates.

In other news, new jobless claims were lower than last were with 258,000 new claims filed as compared to last week’s reading of 261,000 new jobless claims. Analysts expected a reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Spring holidays and school vacations can create additional volatility in week-to-week first-time jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment index readings for March increased to 96.90 against expectations of a 97.60 index reading. February’s index reading for consumer sentiment was 96.30.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

March 31, 2017

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

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

Have You Looked Under The Bed?

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

Do You Like The Retro Rug?

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

Blame It On The Bookshelf

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

There are a lot of areas where dust can accumulate in the home and make allergies worse, but by checking under the bed and dusting the books you can avoid its worst ills. If you’re cleaning up to sell your home, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

March 30, 2017

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Selling an Apartment or Condo? How to Use Snapchat to Target First-time Buyers

Selling an Apartment or Condo? How to Use Snapchat to Target First-time BuyersThere are plenty of ways to market your home online, but social media has become one of the best ways to catch the attention of interested homebuyers in the past few years. If you’re currently determining a marketing strategy for your home and are wondering about social media, here are a few ways you can use Snapchat and see your chances for selling increase in an instant.

Focus On The Details

Since Snapchat is all about striking, quick pictures that appear and disappear before your eyes, it’s a great way to highlight the best features of your home so you can pique the interest of a homebuyer. Whether you decide to take a snap of your unique bathroom tile, the expanse of your backyard or your stainless-steel appliances, the instant visual can give interested parties the impetus they need to show up at your open house or stop by for a more in-depth look.

Create Your Own Geofilter

Many users of Snapchat like to use geofilters, which are an illustration or overlay that appears on top of the picture to give the viewer a sense of where they are. In the case that you’re trying to sell your home, you can enlist the help of your agent to create your own geofilter with your home’s address or neighborhood. A geofilter will not only add a touch of uniqueness to your picture, it will allow potential homebuyers to determine if your neighborhood and home are what they’re looking for.

Deal With An Experienced Agent

It’s entirely possible that you already have your own Snapchat account and many followers, but if you don’t, it’s best to enlist the services of a seasoned real estate agent who will be able to use their network to attract interested buyers. The only people who will be able to see your snaps in the event that you’re selling your home will be users linked to your account, so having a real estate agent who can leverage their connections makes it much easier to sell your home to the world.

Social media is a great marketing tool when it comes to putting your home up for sale and attracting buyers, but it’s important to have a following and engage the viewer with the right details. If you’re getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

March 29, 2017

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

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

It’s Free Money

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

Bumping Up Your Home’s Value

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

Spring Is Selling Time

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

There are very few people that look forward to tax time, but getting a sizeable return can be a good reason to do some renovations and put your home on the market for the spring. If you’re currently getting prepared to put your home up for sale, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

March 28, 2017

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Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key Tips

Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key TipsIt’s always exciting to pack up and get away from your home for the sake of escape, but going on vacation also means leaving your home behind. While a good neighborhood can go a long way towards making sure your home stays safe in your absence, here are some additional tips for how to ensure you’ll be coming back from your trip without incident.

Take Care Of Your Property

Thieves will often assume that an unkempt yard and home maintenance issues are a sign of a homeowner that doesn’t care, and this will often attract them to a property. Instead of giving potential trespassers the wrong idea, ensure that your yard is well kept in your absence with no overgrown bushes, maintenance issues or items left out. It’s also important to make sure that no newspaper or mail is piling up at the door, as this can be a surefire signal to thieves that you’re away.

Talk To Your Neighbors

There’s no way even the best neighbors will be able to observe everything that may happen with your home, but having ones who will stop by and make sure things are OK is ideal. Whether your neighbors need to feed the cat or water the plants, have them check for any unlocked windows or other signs that something is afoot. One of the best guards against theft is a neighborhood watch program, so by utilizing this defense you can easily ensure the safety of your home when you’re out of town.

Invest In A Security System

Few things will provide the peace of mind that a security system does, so if you haven’t already invested in one, it might be time to start doing the research. There are many great options for security nowadays that are technologically advanced and will keep your mind at ease. There are even options for viewing your home that will enable you to check it on your mobile phone, and this can be a great means of keeping your house safe even from a distance!

Leaving your home behind to go on vacation can be nerve-wracking for the new homeowner, but by keeping your property maintained and enlisting your neighbors to check on it you can keep it safe and secure. If you’ll be preparing to buy a new home in the future, contact your trusted eal estate professionals for more information.

March 27, 2017

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 27, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases on new and pre-owned home sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Pre-owned Home Sales Fall, Due to Dwindling Inventory

5.48 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 5.45 million sales based on January’s reading of 5.69 million sales. Lagging supplies of listed homes continue to cause home prices to rise as buyers compete for fewer available homes. First time buyers represented only 32 percent of sales as compared to the normal reading of 40 percent. First-buyers represent new demand for homes and they are important to sales of existing homes that allow current homeowners to move up to larger homes.

The available supply of pre-owned homes was 6.40 percent lower in February than for February 2016. Real estate pros reported that as of February 2017. There was a 3.80 months’ supply of available homes as compared to the normal range of six-month supply.  

Regional Results for Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales declined in three out of four regions tracked by the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of previously owned homes fell by 13.80 percent in the Northeastern region; the Midwestern region posted a 7.00 percent decline in sales. The Western region reported a 3.20 percent decrease in sales. The Southern region posted a 1.30 percent increase in existing home sales.  

Sales of new homes rose in February; 592,000 homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 571,000 sales and 558,000 new home sales in January. Sales were 6.1 percent higher than for January and were 12.80 percent higher year-over-year. February’s reading was the highest in seven months

Analysts said that the national median price of a new home was $296,000 in February, this was 3.90 percent lower than January’s reading and 4.90 percent lower year-over-year.   

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.4 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent on average. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 0.40 percent. Lower mortgage rates stood in contrast to the Fed’s decision to raise the federal funds rate last week.

New jobless claims jumped last week with a reading of 258,000 new claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 243,000 new claims and expectations of 240,000 new claims. While week-to-week readings for jobless claims are notoriously volatile, the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was higher by 5000 new claims at 246,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes Case-Shiller Housing Market Index and pending home sales. Also scheduled are readings on inflation and consumer confidence.  Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

March 24, 2017

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Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New Home

Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New HomeThe idea of paying off your student loans and buying a home at the same time can seem like an impossible feat given the impact on your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio. However, there are ways it’s possible to have enough funds and good enough credit to make your dream of home ownership come true a little more quickly. If you’re currently considering how to manage both, here are some options you might want to consider.

Decrease Your Debt

Lenders will be looking at your DTI ratio in order to determine whether or not you’re a solid financial bet, so before throwing yourself into the market, it can be a good idea to minimize your debt load. While this doesn’t mean paying off all of your student loans, try putting more down over a period of a few months so you have additional wiggle room. By making a budget plan that you can stick to, you’ll slowly eat away at the principal and have a little more room to invest when the time comes.

Add Another Income

You’re probably working pretty hard in your post-student life to make ends meet and pay off debt, but one of the best ways to pay off two loans is to bump up your income. Whether you decide to find something part-time on the weekend or hone one of your skills for freelance profit, a little bit of extra money each month can make a huge dent in the amount you owe in no time at all.

Consider A Starter Home

It’s entirely possible that you’ve got your eye on your ideal home, but if you’re dealing with student debt there’s a pretty good chance that the monthly payment will be unattainable. Instead of choosing a home that’s out of your league, make your dream of ownership come true by picking something that will be affordable month to month. While it might not be exactly the house you’re dreaming of, you’ll still be putting equity into something so you’ll have money to invest down the road.

It’s certainly not an easy feat to take on student loans and mortgage debt at the same time, but by improving your income and paying down as much as possible before investing, you may be able to do both at once.

March 23, 2017

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DIY Home Improvement: A Much Better Bedroom in Just a Few Hours

DIY Home Improvement: A Much Better Bedroom in Just a Few HoursTaking on the task of renovating your home can seem like an awful lot of work, but there are ways to do this that require a lot less energy and just a little bit of money. Whether you’re looking for an instant home revamp or are readying your home to sell, here are some ideas for how you can improve your bedroom in no time.

Make It Clutter Free

It might sound too simple, but just clearing away the extraneous stuff that can accrue in your bedroom will instantly improve the look of your space. Instead of doing it over time, set aside an afternoon to go through the excess and clean up extra receipts, junk left in the corner and any unpacked boxes. Cleaning up the stuff that’s been lingering may seem like a small step, but it will give way for what comes next.

A Coat Of Paint

While adding a coat of paint may seem like a lot of work for little reward, there are few things that will improve the appearance of a room like a shiny coat of paint. It may be tempting to go for a bright shade, but choose a neutral tone that will age well and can be complimented with bright accents from pillows or a colorful throw. Getting out the paint may seem like a big job at first, but it’s one of the best ways to upgrade the look of your bedroom.

Find A Unique Piece

It’s one thing to have a great coat of paint and a clutter-free space, but having a unique piece of furniture or a lighting fixture that you can call your own will add that special touch to your space. While there are plenty of options to go with, you may want to choose a vintage item like a claw-footed night table or an embellished chandelier that will instantly dress up a lackadaisical room. Instead of going with something expensive, choose something that you can dress up or re-paint for a modern effect.

It’s often the case that renovating your home or your bedroom can seem like an expensive project, but there are ways it can be done that are both economical and will add instant spark. If you’re currently renovating your home and are planning to put it on the market in the future, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown is the premier expert on HARP loans and Government FHA and VA loans. Please visit The Mortgage Chili Blog