Archives for August 2017

4 Smart Money Habits That Will Help You Save up a Mortgage Down Payment Faster

4 Smart Money Habits That Will Help You Save up a Mortgage Down Payment FasterAre you ready for home ownership? The prospect of owning your own house or apartment is an exciting one, but with any financial transaction this large there are some things to consider. The first is your down payment – that is, the initial payment you’ll put against the cost of the house to reduce the amount that you’re borrowing in a mortgage. Let’s have a look at four habits that will help you to get your down payment saved up faster.

Build (And Stick To!) A Reasonable Budget

The first and most obvious tip is to stick to a reasonable budget. Determine how much you have coming in and going out of your bank accounts and credit cards each month. Group everything into areas like ‘food,’ ‘utilities,’ ‘dining out,’ ‘entertainment’ and more. Then, reduce each area to a reasonable amount and avoid any overspending.

Figure Out Your ‘Latte Factor’ And Eliminate It

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a ‘latte factor’ is that one consistent purchase that you make each day which, over time, drains your bank account. For example, if you spend $5 each day on your coffee habit that adds up to almost $2,000 per year in unnecessary costs. Pay close attention to your spending habits and try to eliminate anything that you can.

Make Automatic Payments To A Down Payment Fund

If you’re working a stable job and have regular pay periods, you may want to explore setting up a separate savings account for your down payment. Once you have this account opened, set up automatic deposits from your regular bank account after each pay day. This limits your ability to spend your cash while building up your down payment fund automatically.

Don’t Carry Credit That You Don’t Need

Finally, try not to carry credit that you aren’t going to use. This includes department store credit cards, extra bank credit cards or lines of credit. While it won’t necessarily harm your credit score to have available credit, if you do have it you’re far more likely to use it than if you don’t. You’ll need to be disciplined to save up your down payment. So don’t bother with extra credit that may be too tempting to resist using.

These are just a few of the smart money habits that will help you get your mortgage down payment saved up as quickly as possible. When you’re ready to discuss mortgage financing for your new home, contact our your trusted mortgage professional.

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: National Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Level

According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for June, Seattle, Washington continued to lead home price growth for the tenth consecutive month with a June reading of 13.40 percent growth year-over-year. Portland Oregon held second place for home price growth in the 20-City Home Price Index in June but trailed Seattle by 5.20 percent with 8.20 percent year-over-year home price growth. Dallas Texas held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 7.70 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index increased by 5.70 percent year-over-year and was unchanged from May’s reading.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported a reading of 5.80 percent home price growth in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent.

Wage Growth, Strong Economic Indicators Drive Demand for Homes

Case-Shiller’s month-to-month home price data also reflected continued growth. 14 cities reported higher home prices in June after seasonal adjustment. Home prices rose 0.40 percent month-to-month nationally; the 20-city index rose by 0.10 percent month-over-month after seasonal adjustment.

Shortages of homes for sale continue to drive up home prices as sales of pre-owned homes outpace new home sales. Builders haven’t kept up with demand due to ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising materials costs. There was an estimated 4.20 months’ supply of homes for sale in June; the average level is a six-month supply. Low mortgage rates continue to encourage first-time and current buyers to enter the market.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director, and CEO of S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee said that although home prices are rising steadily, wage growth and overall economic growth were driving demand for homes in June. Mr. Blitzer said that current economic trends indicated home price growth was not expected to reverse anytime soon.

Closing Costs 101: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Costs Down When Finalizing Your Mortgage

Closing Costs 101: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Costs Down When Finalizing Your MortgageAre you thinking about buying a new home? If you are going to make use of mortgage financing, you may be wondering about some of the costs attached. As you may have heard, all mortgages have a number of fees and other costs that are assessed at the “close,” or when you finalize the loan. Let’s take a look at a few expert tips that will help you to keep your closing costs to a minimum when you take out your next mortgage.

Aim For Zero-Closing-Cost Options If Possible

One question that you will want to ask your potential mortgage lender is whether or not they offer a low-cost or zero-cost option. What this means is that rather than you paying the closing costs, the lender pays them on your behalf. While the upside is that you aren’t stuck with a hefty bill when you are approved for your mortgage, the downside is that you are likely to have a higher interest rate over the life of your mortgage.

Get The Right Mortgage Loan To Suit Your Needs

Another way to ensure that you keep your closing costs down is to opt for the right mortgage. There are a lot of options open to you in today’s mortgage marketplace and navigating them to choose the right one can be tough. There are FHA-guaranteed loans, VA loans, USDA loans, traditional bank financing and a lot more. As each type of mortgage comes with its own set of closing costs, choosing the best one to suit your needs can limit the amount you will need to pay.

Lock In Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Finally, don’t forget that most mortgage lenders will offer a “rate lock.” This means that you can have a particular mortgage rate frozen for a set period. This might be 15, 30 or even 60 days depending on the terms of your mortgage. Using a rate lock can ensure that you keep a lower mortgage rate, even if interest rates were to change significantly in the meantime.

There you have it – three tips that you can use to ensure that you keep your closing costs to a minimum when taking out your next mortgage. For more information about local mortgage options and insight into today’s interest rates, contact your mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 28, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released, along with coverage of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Home Sales Lower in July

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales fell to a seven-month low in July; 571,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in July.  This reading fell short of the expected sales rate of 608,000 new home sales and June’s reading of 630,000 sales. This was unwelcome news for home builders, who have been under pressure to build more homes.  pronounced shortage of available homes coupled with high buyer demand has pressured builders to increase their rate of housing starts. A sudden dip in new home sales could impact builders’ production rates if slow sales persist.

Buyer demand may be waning as home prices have continued to climb. July’s national average home price rose to $313700, which was 6.30 percent year over year. The National Association of Realtors® said the current inventory of available homes rose to 5.70 months. This was the highest reading in highest reading in several months. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale an average reading. Regardless of record high demand for homes and low inventories, rapidly rising home prices reduce the pool of potential buyers due to affordability.

Sales of previously owned homes also fell in July. The National Association of Realtors® reported that pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million sales. Analysts predicted a rate of 5.50 million sales based on June’s reading of 5.51 million sales.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed mortgage rates results, but mortgage types surveyed were little changed. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 3.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was unchanged at 3.16 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

First-time jobless claims rose to 234,000, which fell short of the expected reading of 238,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 232,000 new claims.

Fed Chair Defends DoddFrank Act

Fed Chair Janet Yellen defended Dodd-Frank mortgage legislation passed after the financial crisis. The legislation established credit standards for mortgage lenders to eliminate irresponsible lending practices. Speaking at the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chair Yellen’s comments responded to recent indications by the administration and banking officials that the Dodd-Frank Act should be repealed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices. Pending home sales, construction spending and inflation reports will be released in addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Several labor reports will also be released including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls, and the national unemployment rate will also be released. 

First-time Buyers: Boost Your Chances of Mortgage Pre-approval With These 4 Tips

First-time Buyers: Boost Your Chances of Mortgage Pre-approval With These 4 TipsBuying a home for the first time? If you plan on taking out a mortgage, you will likely want to know just how you can get pre-approved for enough financing to get the home of your dreams. In today’s post, we will share four tips that will help you to boost your chances of a successful pre-approval when you apply for a mortgage.

Polish Up Your Credit Score

It should come as no surprise that your credit score is one area every mortgage lender is going to inspect. Order a copy of your credit report and be sure to go over any outstanding items in detail. Are there any old or retired debts on there that need to be removed? Or do you have any outstanding black marks that will need to be explained? If necessary, take the next step and visit a credit repair specialist to get things polished up.

It’s Best To Apply When You’re Employed

While it’s not mandatory to have a job to get a mortgage, you will certainly need to demonstrate that you have enough income to afford to make your monthly payments. Waiting until you (and your spouse or partner, if applicable) are gainfully employed will go a long way in making your lender feel confident about your repayment ability.

Don’t Take Out Any Major Loans

Of course, you will want to avoid taking out any significant loans around the time you’re applying for a mortgage. Every lender will want you to demonstrate your ability to manage your debts. So if you’re trying to get a car loan, student loan and mortgage at the same time, you’re not likely to be successful.

Maintain At Least 3 Months Of Spending Cash

Finally, many lenders will want to see that you have at least three months’ worth of cash saved up. This is so that you can continue to make your mortgage payments on time, even if something unfortunate were to happen. If possible, it’s good to have as large a safety net as is possible. If you’re able to put six months of mortgage payments aside, don’t hesitate. You can even invest the funds in some low-risk or guaranteed investment and they will grow over time.

The mortgage pre-approval process is not meant to be scary or intimidating. In fact, it’s an excellent time to give yourself a financial tune-up before purchasing your new home. For more information about mortgage options, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

5 Surprisingly Stylish Ways to Improve Your Living Room’s Look Using Wallpaper

5 Surprisingly Stylish Ways to Improve Your Living Room's Look Using WallpaperFrom a sophisticated couch to a stunning art print, there are plenty of ways that you can dress up your living room and instantly change its vibe. You may not realize it, but wallpaper is back in fashion and becoming another popular way to instantly revamp a room. If you’re contemplating ways that wallpaper can benefit your space, here are some options you may want to try out.

Add An Accent

A brightly colored accent wall may have been a popular trend a few years ago, but a way to bring your wall into current fashion can be to add wallpaper. In addition to a fun print, wallpaper can instantly add elegance without overpowering the look of your living room.

Cover The Closet Doors

If you’ve come across a wallpaper pattern you like, try applying it to the front of the closet doors. It will be an easy way to dress up your doors without adding a coat of paint and will add a subtle effect that will go with your room’s décor.

Add In Some Personality

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are so many options that allow you to personalize your wallpaper and make the room your own. Posters of your favorite rock band may be a thing of the past, but unique wallpaper can be a great way to inject your own passions into your favorite room.

Make It Your Wall Art

Many homeowners struggle with how to dress up their walls appropriately, but choosing wallpaper can be a great means of avoiding this dilemma. Instead of an art piece, you can choose strips of wallpaper to provide visual interest or paper a whole wall that will act as the focal point of your room.

Upgrade Your Coffee Table

It’s often the case that people buy oversized books to decorate their coffee table, but you may want to utilize wallpaper if you have a glass surface on your table. Instead of leaving your table neutral, add a patch of wallpaper under the glass for an instant designer look.

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are plenty of ways to dress up your room for little cost that will make a huge difference in the look of your space. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Graduating From College? 3 Things You Need to Know About Mortgages and Student Loans

Graduating From College? 3 Things You Need to Know About Mortgages and Student LoansAre you thinking about buying a new home using a mortgage loan? If you’ve just graduated from college, you’re probably wondering how your student loans will impact a mortgage and what your options are. In today’s post we’ll share three things that you need to know about mortgages if you’re still working on paying off your student loan debt.

#1: Yes, Your Student Loan Will Affect Your Application

You might as well embrace the fact that your outstanding student loan is going to cause some questions to be asked during the mortgage application process. Mortgage lenders have a responsibility to understand the risk involved in lending a significant amount of money to you. And because of this, any mortgage provider is likely to dig into your financial background to ensure that you are responsible and can afford to make the mortgage payments.

Don’t take it personally. In fact, it’s best to be up front about your existing student loan or other debts and your plan for managing them.

#2: It’s All About Your “DTI” Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio is going to be a significant factor in the success of your mortgage application. This figure helps to determine how much money you need to send out to balance your debts each month versus how much you’re bringing in from working. If this ratio is too high, it’s a signal that you may not be able to juggle all of the payments you’re responsible for making. Also, keep in mind that over time, your job and income situation will change and this can affect your DTI ratio as well.

#3: Missed Payments Can Cause Serious Problems

Finally, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t miss any student loan payments. Even one missed payment – for any reason – can cause significant damage to your credit rating or FICO score. Successfully managing a higher-than-normal debt load means being strict with your budget and responsible with your payments. If possible, try to have your student loan payments taken out from your bank account automatically. That way you won’t forget or miss the payment deadline.

While it may be a challenge to manage multiple types of debt, it’s not impossible. Juggling student loans with a mortgage can be done and offers the benefit of building your net worth while paying off your past loans. For more information about getting a mortgage when you have student loans, contact your trusted mortgage team today. We’ll be happy to share our insight and make recommendations that fit your situation.

Itching to Start a Project? Don’t Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator’s Remorse

Itching to Start a Project? Don't Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator's RemorseTake a look around your home. Do you feel that burning desire to renovate or upgrade certain areas? Perhaps it’s the kitchen countertops or the décor in the master bedroom. Whatever the case, if you’re itching to take on a home renovation project you’ll want to ensure it’s one that makes your life better – not worse! Let’s take a look at four tips that will help you to avoid experiencing “renovator’s remorse.”

Ask Yourself: Will This Project Add Value?

If you’re renovating to build equity in your home, you’ll want to determine if the project is worth undertaking. There are many renovations that might seem to make the home more appealing, but in truth add next to no value that can be realized later when you sell. Be sure to choose those projects which will bump the home’s value by a significant amount.

Start With A Realistic Budget

Ask any friend or neighbor that has renovated their home and you’ll discover that costs can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not careful. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to start with a realistic budget that incorporates some additional room for last-minute tweaks or changes. Once you have the project scoped out, take a trip to your local building supply store and chat with the professionals. They’ll be able to help you understand what the actual costs of your renovation will be and they can point out things that you may have forgotten.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Even the most skilled carpenters and tradespeople make mistakes, so you should rest assured that it can happen to you. Even if you have to go over your plans twice or three times, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re going to do before getting started. As the saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Spending the necessary time preparing your work will go a long way in saving you time and money later.

Don’t Start If You Can’t Finish

The last piece of advice is to finish any home project that you start. A half-finished renovation project can degrade your quality of life significantly. And the longer it takes to get done, the less motivated you will be to finish it. Stay on task and get the job done as soon as possible.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 21, 2017

Last week’s economic readings included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Consumer sentiment for August was reported by the University of Michigan. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Jumps 4 Points in August

Builder confidence in housing market conditions improved by four index points in August after reaching its lowest reading in eight months in July. Builder confidence rose in consideration of a strong labor market and overall economic growth. Obstacles including labor shortages, rising materials costs and a lack of buildable lots continued to present obstacles to builders producing homes at a pace sufficient to meet high demand and alleviate low inventories of homes for sale.

Housing starts were lower in July at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million starts and fell short of 1.229 million starts. 1.223 million starts were reported in July. Single family home construction was higher as builders focus on meeting demand for single-family homes. Building permits issued in July were also lower at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.223 million permits issued as compared to July’s reading of 1,275 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.89 percent at one basis point lower than the previous week. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.16 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 241,000 new claims and 244,000 new claims filed the prior week.

August’s reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was higher at 97.6 as compared to an expected reading of 94.8 and July’s index reading of 93.4. Growing consumer confidence could along with improving job markets and economic expansion could prompt renters to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on sales of new and previously owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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

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

Interest Rates Are Heading Up

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

It’s A Buyer’s Market In Most Areas

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

You’ll Start Building Real Net Worth

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

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