Thinking About a Major Renovation? Three Reasons to Consider Adding a Second Story

Thinking About a Major Renovation? Three Reasons to Consider Adding a Second StoryWhen your home is no longer fully functional for your needs, you may be thinking about moving into a larger home with a more functional floor plan. While this is one option to consider, another option is to renovate your existing home. You could build a wing onto your home, or you could add a second story to the property. There are several reasons why adding a second story to your floor plan may be the best solution for you.

Use the Existing Footprint

When you build a wing outward from your home, you will need to pour more foundation and take up a section of the yard with the new addition. By building upward, you can keep your yard intact and use the existing footprint. You may even be able to build into an attic space without making any structural changes to the home itself.

Improve Property Value

When you add a second story onto your home, you essentially will be adding more usable square footage with finished out space. This can have a direct and significant impact on your property value. You will not need to pay moving expenses or worry about if your existing furniture will fit into a new home. You will be able to enjoy the benefits of a larger and more functional home coupled with the ability to recoup most or all of the cost of the renovation through an increase in property value.

Keep Costs to a Minimum

By using the existing footprint of your home and by avoiding pouring more concrete for the foundation, you will be able to keep costs to a minimum. In some cases, such as if you build into the existing attic, you will not need to adjust the frame or roof to find the additional space you need. You may still need to add drywall, HVAC ducts and other features inside the frame of the home to take advantage of this space, but it generally is more cost-effective to build upward rather than outward when renovating a home.

A major renovation is one that can improve the style of your home, but it often will improve the function and increase value as well. If you are thinking about renovating your home, you may research how beneficial it can be to add more space upward on your home rather than to build outward. Talk with your mortgage professional today to see what financial options you may have available to you for renovating your home.

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Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let’s Take a Look

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney to Help Close Your Home Purchase? Let's Take a LookWhen buying a new home, you may have a close eye focused on your budget and expenses, and your goal may be to keep related expenses to a minimum. However, you may also be well aware that a real estate purchase is a legal transaction, and you may be wondering if you need to pay for legal services from a real estate attorney. With a closer look, you can make a better decision that is right for your home buying plans.

The Legal Forms Used With A Typical Transaction

The majority of real estate contracts will be written using standard legal forms. These are legally binding forms with clauses that protect buyers and sellers alike. While they are standard forms, you do want to read the forms in their entirety and understand your obligations before signing the contract. Keep in mind that you are not required to use these forms, and you can request an attorney to prepare a separate contract for you. However, these are commonly used forms that real estate agents typically will use.

The Services Of A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is not a legal professional, and your agent likely will not be licensed to practice law in the state. However, the agent can explain your obligations with a standard contract so that you have a better understanding about what you are committed to. Your real estate agent may refer you to a real estate attorney if you require a special contract to be drawn up or if you are not comfortable with different clauses in the standard forms.

When Special Situations Arise

The standard real estate contracts will typically be feasible for use with most transactions, but there are special situations that may arise from time to time. For example, you may only want to purchase a portion of a large estate. While the seller would need to subdivided, your attorney would need to review special documents to ensure the transaction is legal. Perhaps you want to purchase real estate in a corporation or under another entity, or you want to protect your rights when purchasing property with a partner who you are not legally married to.

While real estate agents are not legal professionals, they are able to prepare standard contract forms for you and explain them to you. Because of this, many people will not need to pay for additional legal services, but each situation is unique. When you speak with your trusted mortgage professional about your upcoming purchase, he or she can help you to learn more about services an attorney may provide that your real estate agent may not be able to.

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Case-Shiller: 20-City Home Price Index Hits 6 Month High

Case Shiller 20 City Home Price Index Hits 6 Month HighAccording to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for February, month-to-month home prices increased by 0.50 percent from January’s reading and achieved the highest year-over-year gain in six months. Analysts expected February home prices to increase by 4.80 percent. David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones index committee, said that home prices continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains. Although this is great news for homeowners, it also demonstrates the challenge of affordability for home buyers.

Year-Over-Year Home Prices: Denver Leads in Home Price Gains

Home prices in Denver, Colorado increased by 10 percent year-over-year in February; San Francisco, California home prices gained 9.80 percent year-over-year. Miami, Florida home prices gained 9.20 percent year-over-year. Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon rounded out the top five cities with the highest year-over-year home price appreciation in February. Home prices in Dallas increased by 8.60 percent, while and Portland’s home prices gained 7.10 percent year-over-year.

February readings for year-over-year home price growth were lowest in Washington, DC at 1.40 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and New York, New York posted year-over-year gains of 2.30 and 2.50 percent respectively. Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 2.90 percent and Minneapolis, Minnesota home prices gained 3.10 percent year-over-year.

Chicago, Illinois and Detroit Michigan posted year-over-year gains of 3.40 percent and 3.7- percent. Both cities have shown the smallest gains in prior months but home prices are gaining in year-over-year readings.

San Francisco Tops Month-to-Month Home Price Growth

Price gains from January to February 2015 were led by San Francisco, California with a reading of 2.00 percent. Denver, Colorado home prices gained 1.40 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices gained 0.80 percent, and were followed closely by a gain of 0.80 percent in Los Angeles, California and a tie at 0.70 percent for Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California.

Cites showing negative readings and the lowest month-to-month price gains in February were Boston, Massachusetts at -0.20 percent; Cleveland, Ohio at -0.10 percent. Chicago held steady with 0.00 percent gain and Atlanta, Georgia and Minneapolis, Minnesota posted month-to-month gains of +0.10 percent.

Home prices remained about 16 percent below their 2006 peak at the end of February.

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Yes, It’s Possible to Get a Mortgage Without a Favorable Credit History – Here’s What You Will Need

Yes, It's Possible to Get a Mortgage Without a Favorable Credit History - Here's What You Will Need There are several factors that are reviewed when you apply for a home mortgage, and one of the initial factors is your credit rating. You may already be aware that you have a lower credit score, or you may have learned about your credit issues after speaking with a mortgage professional. Now that you are aware of the situation, you may be concerned about your ability to get approved for your loan request. The good news is that you may still be able to get a mortgage without a favorable credit history with a few things.

A Co-Borrower Or Co-Signer

One of the best steps that you can take to strengthen your loan request is to find a co-borrower or co-signor for your loan request. Ideally, this will be an individual with a spotless credit history and great scores. There may be some rules in place regarding who can co-sign with you, so you may consider getting more advice from your mortgage representative before moving forward with this option.

A Large Down Payment

The size of your down payment essentially impacts the level of risk that a lender assumes when extending a loan to you, and your loan request is riskier to approve when you have a lower credit rating. You may be able to offset the fact that you have a troubled credit history by making a larger down payment. This may be a down payment that exceeds a standard 20 percent down payment.

A Willingness To Accept A Higher Interest Rate

Mortgage lenders typically have a tiered interest rate structure, and those with a lower credit score will qualify for a higher interest rate. There typically is a minimum threshold to the tier system, and each lender has a different minimum score that they will consider. However, generally, if you have a lower credit rating, you should be prepared to accept a higher interest rate with your loan request.

A lower credit rating will impact your ability to get approved for the best terms on a mortgage, but this does not necessarily mean that you cannot get approved at all. There are various steps that you may be able to take to strengthen your loan request and to structure the loan application so that underwriting will approve it. You can speak with your mortgage consultant today about the options available to you.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 27 2015Last week’s housing related reports included the FHFA Home Price Index, the National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report and The Commerce Department’s report on new home sales. Results were mixed, but suggest that housing markets are strengthening.

FHFA Home Prices Up in February, Existing Home Sales Highest in 18 Months

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose from a 5.10 percent increase in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.40 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.19 million in March as compared to expectations of 5.08 million sales and February’s reading of 4.89 million sales of pre-owned homes.

March sales represented a 6.10 percent gain over February sales; this was the highest volume of existing home sales in 18 months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that if strong sales of pre-owned homes continue, 2015 could be the best year for existing home sales in nearly a decade.

New Home Sales Lag in March

The Department of Commerce reported that new home sales fell from February’s reading of 543,000 new homes sold to 481,000 new homes sold in March. Analysts expected a March reading of 503,000 new homes sold. This was the slowest pace for new home sales since November, but year-over-year, sales of new homes were 19.40 percent higher year-over-year. The national median home price fell by 1.70 percent to $277,400 year-over-year.

Sales of new homes decreased by 33 percent in the Northeast and fell by 16 percent in the South. New home sales fell by three percent in the West and rose by six percent in the Midwest. At the current sales pace, there is a 5.3 month supply of new homes for sale as compared to a 4.6 month supply in February. Analysts said that stagnant wage growth contributed to fewer home sales.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Weekly Jobless Claims

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage lenders, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.67 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also dropped two basis points to an average of 2.92 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.84 percent. Discount points for a 30 year mortgage fell to 0.60 percent; points for a 15-year mortgage were higher at 0.60 percent and average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 295,000 new claims filed; analysts expected a reading of 288,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading was 294,000 new claims filed. Spring break holidays were blamed for higher jobless claims and March job growth hit its lowest in more than a year. Analysts caution against reading too much into weekly fluctuations and prefer to use the four-week rolling average to identify trends in unemployment claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s housing related economic reports include Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Housing Market Index reports, the customary post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and pending home sales data.

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The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must Embrace

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must EmbraceWhether you are preparing to purchase your first home or it has been many years since you last walked through the home buying process, you may be starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of the work that lies in front of you. From concerns about finding the right home to the physical act of relocating all of your belongings after the closing, there is certainly a lot to think about.

While each home buying transaction is unique, the most successful home buyers have typically adopted a few behaviors. You may keep these in mind to help you navigate through the process with success.

Keep An Eye On Your Budget

Financial stress when buying a home is common. You may have saved for years to afford your down payment, but there are various expenses that some may have not calculated or planned for.

It is important to leave extra funds available for unexpected expenses, such as paying for the appraisal up-front on the home you have fallen in love with. Likewise, keep a close eye on your budget so that you are aware of your financial situation at all times.

An important strategy to stay on budget is to sit down with your trusted mortgage expert to determine what you can afford before you go look at homes. This may save you from falling in love with a property that is well outside your budget.

Be Available And Flexible

It is imperative that you remain available and flexible as much as possible. Your real estate agent may call you at the last minute with a great new listing that has come on the market, and you may need to be flexible with your schedule to see this property before other buyers do. In addition, you may need to be flexible and accommodating with regards to contract negotiations, working with title company requests and more.

Seek Advice And Knowledge

Buying a home does not have to be stressful, but it also is not something that you do every day. There is a lot for even an experienced home buyer to learn, and you should be prepared to seek advice and to educate yourself along the way. Ask questions as necessary, and use the Internet for additional research.

Home buying is a process, and you may consider taking one day at a time as you proceed through the journey to reach your ultimate goal. A skilled real estate agent parnered with a trusted mortgage advisor can both guide you through the process and can help you to more successfully reach your goal. Reach out to a trustred mortgage expert today to begin looking for your new home by figuring out what you can afford.

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Should You Be Worried About Skipping Multiple Mortgage Payments? Yes, and Here’s Why

Should You Be Worried About Skipping Multiple PaymentsFrom time to time, a homeowner may struggle to make a mortgage payment on time. Most will be able to make the missing payment a week or two later when the next paycheck arrives. However, others may find themselves in a situation where they are unable to make multiple payments in a row.

If you are skipping multiple mortgage payments, you should be concerned about your financial situation. There are several important reasons why you may want to take action to improve your situation or to work out a payment arrangement with your mortgage company.

Falling Too Far Behind To Catch Up

A mortgage payment is generally among the largest expenses in a personal budget, and a considerable portion of your take-home income may be applied to a single payment each month. When you miss multiple payments, you may find that you have fallen too far behind to catch up with your payments.

This can effectively make it nearly impossible for you to improve your financial situation without taking drastic action, such as selling your home or borrowing money.

The Negative Impact On Your Credit Report

Late payments are reported to the credit bureaus as soon as the payment is at least 30 days past due. While your lender may charge you a late fee on your mortgage after the grace period expires, you still typically have extra time to make the payment that month without seeing an impact on your credit rating. However, when you have missed a second mortgage payment, your first missed payment has typically exceeded this 30-day mark. This means that you will likely see a negative impact on your credit rating.

The Potential For A Foreclosure

You are contractually obligated to make timely payments to your mortgage lender, and when you fail to do so, the lender has the legal right to begin foreclosure proceedings. This process can impact your credit rating. More than that, it can result in the loss of your home, including erasing any home equity that you have established in it.

As soon as you realize that you are unable to make a payment on a given month, you may consider reviewing financial options available to you. You may also speak with your lender about possibilities. A final option is to reach out to a mortgage professional to review refinancing options that may be available to you.

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Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You’ll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You'll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval A rental property is a wonderful investment option to consider, and it can provide you with everything from considerable tax benefits to appreciation and monthly cash flow. While you may be eager to get started searching for a new rental property to invest in, a good idea is to take the initial step to get pre-approved for your mortgage.

There are several good reasons why a pre-approval is an important first step to take.

Determining What Sales Price to Consider

The mortgage rules and guidelines for an investment or non-owner occupied property are different than those for an owner occupied property. For example, a key difference is that most lenders will require you to make a larger down payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can more easily narrow down your property choices so that you only consider those that are affordable for your budget.

Estimating Cash Flow

When you invest in a rental property, you will need to estimate the cash flow for the property to ensure that it is a good investment. This may include reviewing the monthly rents and operating expenses, and it also includes analyzing the mortgage payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can estimate your monthly payment and determine which properties are a better investment opportunity for you and which will generate the largest profit for you.

Structuring A Stronger Offer

By getting pre-approved, your mortgage professional will provide you with a pre-approval letter. This letter can be given to a seller when you structure your offer, and essentially this will strengthen your offer and make you look like a more serious and qualified buyer. When you are in a bidding war, this letter can make a big difference in your success. Furthermore, it can streamline your mortgage process once your offer is accepted by the buyer, and it will enable you to create a more realistic closing date on your offer.

While you may be ready to jump head first into your property search, you may benefit from taking time to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This process takes very little time to do, and it will facilitate the entire process. From searching for a great property and analyzing its strength as an investment opportunity to helping you pass through the loan process, you will benefit in a number of ways. You can reach out to a mortgage professional today to begin the pre-approval process.

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The Pros and Cons of Putting in More Than 20 Percent as a Down Payment on Your New Home

The Pros and Cons of Putting in More Than 20 Percent as a Down Payment on Your New Home One of the most common questions home buyers ask today relates to how much money they need to put down on a home. There are mortgage requirements in place that establish minimum down payment requirements, and some home buyers will barely have enough to pay the minimum down payment as well as closing costs. However, if you have access to more money, you may be wondering if you should make a larger down payment. There are several points to consider to determine if making a larger down payment is right for your financial situation.

Having Liquid Assets Available After Closing

It is important to consider how much available cash you will have access to after closing if you do make a larger down payment. There are many costs associated with home ownership to think about, such as unexpected repair costs, paying a homeowners’ insurance deductible if a mishap occurs and even furnishing your new home. Once your funds are invested in your home, you will only be able to tap into those funds by refinancing. You may consider placing extra cash into a more liquid asset if you do not have a lot of extra cash available to you.

Qualifying for a Lower Interest Rate

Depending on your loan program, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate if you place more money down with your new mortgage. This is not always the case, so you will want to review this option with your mortgage representative. Keep in mind that interest will impact your mortgage payment as well as the amount of your mortgage interest tax deduction at the end of the year.

Having a Lower Mortgage Payment

When you obtain a lower loan amount with your mortgage, your mortgage payment will be lower. This can make your budget more affordable going forward. Because a mortgage payment is generally one of the higher expenses in a budget, the importance of this cannot be understated. An alternative to this is to establish the loan on a shorter term. Using a shorter term option generally makes your payments higher, but with a larger down payment, it may be easier for you to manage a shorter term length and to pay your mortgage off more quickly.

Using Funds for Other Purposes

You should also consider other ways that you could use your additional funds. For example, you may have high interest rates debts that you could pay off, or you may be able to invest the additional funds in the stock market. For some, tying funds up in a home is practical, but it is not always the best option available.

There is no catch-all answer regarding how much money you should use as a down payment. Each situation is unique, and you should speak with your mortgage representative to discuss the pros and cons of a larger down payment with your specific loan application.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 20 2015Last week’s economic reports included the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates. Other news included the weekly jobless claims report and consumer sentiment for April.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates moved up according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 3.67 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also increased by one basis point to 2.94 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose by five basis points to 2.88 percent. Discount points rose from 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans to 0.70 percent and fell from 0.60 percent to 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Average points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady at 0.50 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 294,000 against expectations of 281,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 282,000 new jobless claims filed.

Last week’s reports ended on a positive note with April’s Consumer Sentiment report. The April reading rose nearly three points to 95.9 as compared to the projected reading of 93.5 and March’s reading of 93.0.

Home Builder Confidence Increases, Housing Starts Up

The National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose to a reading of 56 against the March reading of 52. Builder confidence rose in all three components comprising the HMI. Low mortgage rates and improved labor markets were cited as factors influencing builder confidence.

Regional markets showed mixed results. Three month moving averages showed that builder confidence rose by one point to a reading of 56 in the South; the reading for the Northwest was unchanged at 42. And the Midwestern region lost two points for a builder confidence reading of 54. The West lost three points for a builder confidence reading of 58. The NAHB says that any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than those who are not.

Housing starts rose in March according to the Department of Commerce, but fell short of expectations. 926,000 housing starts were reported with expectations of 1.04 million starts. February’s reading was 908,000 starts. Lingering winter weather conditions contributed to fewer than expected housing starts.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on new and existing home sales, the FHFA Home Price Index and weekly reports on mortgage rates from Freddie Mac along with weekly jobless claims.

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