Archive for April, 2014

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Warmer Weather Brings In The Buyers, Is There Inventory?


2014
04.30

Warmer Weather Brings In The Buyers, Is There Inventory?After three consecutive months of decline, the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index remained nearly unchanged in February. Year-over-year home prices rose by 12.90 percent in February as compared to 13.20 percent in January.

20 Percent Below Their 2006 Pre-recession Peak

Analysts note that in spite of recent slowdowns in home prices, the year-over-year rates of home price growth remain close to peak price growth attained in 2006. National home prices remain approximately 20 percent below their 2006 pre-recession peak.

13 cities posted lower rates of price gains in February. The Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city indices showed year-over-year price gains of 13.10 and 12.90 percent respectively. Only five cities posted year-over-year gains in price appreciation.

Las Vegas, Nevada continues to lead home price growth but its year-over-year rate of home price growth slowed from January’s reading of 24.9 percent to February’s reading of 23.10 percent. Washington, D.C. posted its eighth consecutive month of home price gains with a year-over-year reading of 9.10 percent, its highest rate of price increases since May 2006.

Dallas, Texas posted a year-over-year rate of 10.10 percent and a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent, which continues the city’s record home price growth.

Home Price Gains Expected To Slow In Coming Months

Analysts said that more homes are expected to come on the market and also noted that the rapid increase in home prices for some areas likely sidelined some buyers. As inventories of homes increase, home prices are expected to rise at more modest rates. Job markets continue to experience ups and downs and incomes are relatively flat.

These factors can cause would-be homeowners to take a “wait-and-see” stance. Price increases in other sectors can also impact home prices, as buyers adjust their home purchase plans to what they can afford to spend.

Pending Home Sales Rise In March

The NAR reported that its pending home sales index rose by 3.40 percent in March as compared to a decrease of -0.80 percent for February. The March reading showed the first increase in pending home sales in nine months, and was the highest reading since November.

Warmer weather allowed more buyers shop for homes, but remains 7.90 percent lower than in March 2013. Higher home prices and low inventories of available homes were cited as reasons for the lower reading.

Pending home sales by region showed mixed results, and suggested the impact of severe winter weather on potential home buyers.

Northeast: +1.40 percent

Midwest:    -0.80 percent

South:       +5.60 percent

West:        +5.70 percent

Based on a slow start during the first quarter of 2014, the NAR forecasts 2014 sales of existing homes at 4.9 million as compared to 5.1 million existing homes sold in 2013.

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Five Questions You Might Want To Ask Before You Refinance Your Home


2014
04.29

Five Questions You Might Want To Ask Before You Refinance Your HomeRefinancing your home might be a great way to save money or tap into the capital needed to pay off large debts. However, a refinance can also be an expensive endeavor, and you could even risk harming your credit rating or risk foreclosure if you’re not careful.

Before you take the plunge with a refinance, here are five essential questions that you should ask before signing on the dotted line.

How Much Equity Do I Have In My Home?

Many homeowners today owe more on their mortgage than what the property is actually worth. For mortgage refinancing to be possible, a homeowner must have at least 20 percent equity in their home in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance. The benefit of refinancing would be negated if PMI has to be added to the cost of the new loan.

 Do I Have A Good Credit Score?

The health of your credit score plays a huge role in the type of mortgage rate you’ll be able to qualify for.

Since mortgage rates operate on a sliding scale, the lowest rates tend to be offered to those with a credit score of 720 or more. Borrowers who have a score under 620 may have trouble qualifying for a decent rate, let alone getting approved at all.

Will I Qualify For The Rate I Want?

You might be able to get a general sense of the type of interest rate you could get for a refinance as quoted on major financial websites like BankRate.com, but your specific financial details, such as the type of loan you’d like to refinance into or your credit score, will influence the actual rates that will be available to you.

If you don’t qualify for the lowest advertised refinance rates, it’s important to determine if it’s still worthwhile to refinance your mortgage at the rate you qualify for.

Will I Have To Pay A Penalty?

Most mortgages have a number of rules attached to them, including penalties for breaking a current mortgage before it comes up for renewal. It’s in your best interest to find out if there are any penalties and, if so, what that dollar figure would be.

Some penalties are so high that that they no longer make the refinancing cost-effective. Reading the fine print on your mortgage contract is crucial.

Do I Have A Second Mortgage?

Borrowers who have a second mortgage might face additional challenges when it comes to refinancing their home. In this case, you may either pay off the second mortgage or combine both loans into a bigger first mortgage.

Otherwise, the lender providing the second loan has to agree to staying in second place behind the lender holding the first mortgage, which they might not necessarily be willing to agree to.

The bottom line is: refinancing might be a great way to help you pay off large debts or save money. However, it’s critical that you analyze your specific financial situation in order to avoid getting yourself into a worse position where the only party benefitting from the refinance is the loan officer.

Get in touch with an experienced mortgage specialist today to discuss your needs and to determine if refinancing your home is right for you.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 28, 2014


2014
04.28

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 28, 2014Last week’s economic news supported recent reports that home sales were fewer and home prices increased, but did so at a slower pace.

The NAR reported a slower pace of existing home sales, and FHFA reported a slower year-over-year rate of growth for home prices on properties financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell to their lowest level since July 2013. Mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages, but were unchanged for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Here are the details:

Existing Home Sales Slow, Moderate Growth In Home Prices

March sales of existing homes dipped by 0.20 percent according to the NAR. 4.59 million previously owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against projections of 4.55 million sales and February’s reading of 4.60 million pre-owned homes sold.

Rising home prices contributed to the slowdown in sales, which started last summer. Rapidly rising home prices due to short supplies of available homes and high demand for homes caused some buyers to leave the market. The national average price for existing homes was $198,500 in March, which represented a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices for homes financed with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages rose by approximately 7.0 percent year-over-year as of February.

Severe winter weather was cited as a possible factor in slowing home sales, but as the peak home buying season gets underway, analysts forecast that some sales lost may be recovered in warmer weather.

 Mortgage Rates Rise, New Home Sales At Lowest Level In 21 Months

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.33 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.39 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.60,.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Sales of new single-family homes slumped to their lowest level in since July 2012 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The median price of a new single family home rose to $290,000, which represented a 12.60 percent increase year-over-year.

Analysts noted that month-to-month home sales numbers are not as reliable as sales trends measured over months, but 384,000 March sales of new homes fell markedly short of expectations of 450,000 new home sales and February’s upwardly revised reading of 440,000 new homes sold.

Unemployment Ups And Downs Contribute To Buyer Uncertainty

New jobless claims rose to 329,000 against expectations of 315,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 305,000 new jobless claims. The Labor Department said that seasonal adjustments were incomplete due to the Easter holiday, which occurs on different dates.

As labor and other sectors of the economy endure ups and downs during the economic recovery, it is reasonable to expect some home buyers to put off buying homes.

This Week 

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Pending Home Sales, Case-Shiller’s Housing Market Index, the FOMC meeting and statement and Construction Spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release April’s Non-Farm Payrolls Report and National Unemployment Report on Friday.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 28, 2014


2014
04.28

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 28, 2014Last week’s economic news supported recent reports that home sales were fewer and home prices increased, but did so at a slower pace.

The NAR reported a slower pace of existing home sales, and FHFA reported a slower year-over-year rate of growth for home prices on properties financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell to their lowest level since July 2013. Mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages, but were unchanged for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Here are the details:

Existing Home Sales Slow, Moderate Growth In Home Prices

March sales of existing homes dipped by 0.20 percent according to the NAR. 4.59 million previously owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against projections of 4.55 million sales and February’s reading of 4.60 million pre-owned homes sold.

Rising home prices contributed to the slowdown in sales, which started last summer. Rapidly rising home prices due to short supplies of available homes and high demand for homes caused some buyers to leave the market. The national average price for existing homes was $198,500 in March, which represented a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices for homes financed with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages rose by approximately 7.0 percent year-over-year as of February.

Severe winter weather was cited as a possible factor in slowing home sales, but as the peak home buying season gets underway, analysts forecast that some sales lost may be recovered in warmer weather.

 Mortgage Rates Rise, New Home Sales At Lowest Level In 21 Months

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.33 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.39 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.60,.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Sales of new single-family homes slumped to their lowest level in since July 2012 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The median price of a new single family home rose to $290,000, which represented a 12.60 percent increase year-over-year.

Analysts noted that month-to-month home sales numbers are not as reliable as sales trends measured over months, but 384,000 March sales of new homes fell markedly short of expectations of 450,000 new home sales and February’s upwardly revised reading of 440,000 new homes sold.

Unemployment Ups And Downs Contribute To Buyer Uncertainty

New jobless claims rose to 329,000 against expectations of 315,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 305,000 new jobless claims. The Labor Department said that seasonal adjustments were incomplete due to the Easter holiday, which occurs on different dates.

As labor and other sectors of the economy endure ups and downs during the economic recovery, it is reasonable to expect some home buyers to put off buying homes.

This Week 

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Pending Home Sales, Case-Shiller’s Housing Market Index, the FOMC meeting and statement and Construction Spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release April’s Non-Farm Payrolls Report and National Unemployment Report on Friday.

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Existing Home Sales Show Improvement In The Northeast And Midwest Region


2014
04.24

Existing Home Sales Show Improvement In The Northeast And Midwest RegionMarch sales of existing homes exceeded expectations at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million sales according to the NAR. Analysts projected that existing home sales would reach 4.55 million based on February’s reading of 4.50 million sales.

The pace of existing home sales declined by 0.20 percent as compared to February’s reading.

Headwinds Cause Slower Pace Of Home Sales

Analysts cited poor winter weather and rapidly rising home prices as factors that kept buyers away, although the Northeast and Midwest regions reported improvements in home sales in March. NAR said that the national average home price increased to $198,500, which was a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.

New mortgage regulations, which have caused mortgage lenders to take a conservative position with their lending policies, are also seen as a discouragement to buyers with less-than-perfect credit, first-time and moderate income home buyers.

Experts expressed concerns that current home prices and tight lending standards could create a shortage of first-time buyers.

Home sales to investors have fallen as higher home prices and fewer distressed (foreclosure and short sale) properties cause deals on cheap homes to dry up.

Fannie And Freddie Revise Construction, Housing Market Forecasts

Fannie Mae reduced its forecast for home construction started in 2014 from 1.55 million to 1.05 million. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said that constraints on credit and labor contributed to the revised forecast.

Freddie Mac reduced its forecast of homes sold in 2014 from 5.60 million to 5.50 million. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said that tight inventories of homes in some areas could cause significant challenges for home buyers.

FHFA Home Price Index Posts March Gain

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that February home prices related to mortgages that Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee, gained 0.60 percent as compared to a revised January reading of a 0.40 percent gain.

Year-over-year, home prices rose by 6.90 percent as compared to January’s year over year reading of 7.20 percent.

Analysts said that smaller month-to-month dips in home prices could indicate a turnaround for lagging housing markets and also noted that sales lost during severe winter weather may be recouped as the spring buying season gains momentum.

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It Pays Off To Refinance Your Mortgage


2014
04.23

It Pays Off To Refinance Your Mortgage To refinance a mortgage means to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one.

There are many reasons why homeowners opt to refinance, from obtaining a lower interest rate, to shortening the term of the loan, to switching mortgage loan types, to tapping into home equity.

Each has its considerations.

Lower Your Mortgage Rate

Among the best reasons to refinance is to get access to lower mortgage rates. There is no “rule of thumb” that says how far rates should drop for a refinance to be sensible. Compare your closing costs to your monthly savings, and determine whether the math makes sense for your situation.

Shorten Your Loan Term

Refinancing your 30-year fixed rate mortgage to a 20-year fixed rate or a 15-year fixed rate is a sensible way to reduce your long-term mortgage costs, and to own your home sooner. As a bonus, with mortgage rates currently near all-time lows, an increase to your monthly payment from a shorter loan term may be negligible.

Convert ARM To Fixed Rate Mortgage

Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages may want the comfort of a fixed-rate payment. Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages are often higher than for comparable ARMs so be prepared to pay more to your lender each month.

Access Equity For Projects, Debts, Or Other Reasons

Called a “cash out” refinance, homeowners can sometimes use home equity to retire debts, pay for renovations, or use for other purposes including education costs and retirement. Lenders place restrictions on loans of this type. A refinanced home loan can help you reach specific financial goals or just put extra cash in your pocket each month – just make sure that there’s a clear benefit to you.

Paying large closing costs for small monthly savings or negligible long-term benefit should be avoided. Many lenders offer low- or no-closing costs options for refinancing. Be sure to ask about it.

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Invest In Real Estate Like A Pro With These Quick Tips


2014
04.22

Invest In Real Estate Like A Pro With These Quick TipsReal estate investments are still going strong and will probably continue to be a popular method of financial gain into the future.

Real estate is solid. It is a tangible product that is attractive to both beginning investors and experienced pros. The most important part of getting started in real estate investing is knowing what you’re getting into and what to watch out for.

Here are 4 top tips from real estate investment professionals:

Understand The Realities

Real estate investment, like any form of investment, is risky. Do not use money you cannot afford to lose. Careful study, understanding the market, and practice help alleviate a lot of the risks but things happen in the best of situations so don’t play with what you can’t afford to lose.

Research Is A Constant

Research in real estate investment isn’t something you do once. Research is constant. It is a daily part of your efforts and should always be at the forefront of your mind. From changing banking methods to market changes, researching and learning must be ongoing to be a successful real estate investor.

Know The Property

Research isn’t limited to financing and the real estate market. You need to thoroughly investigate each property before you buy. Fill out an investment worksheet to see if all the costs associated with the purchase will allow a satisfying profit.

Learn About Personal Protection

Taking risks with the money you have set aside for investment is one thing. Taking risks with your family’s savings, property, and other assets is another. Consider starting an LLC. You can choose from a single LLC to cover all of your real estate holdings, or having a separate LLC for each property purchased.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 21, 2014


2014
04.21

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 21, 2014Last week’s economic news supported the general outlook for moderate economic growth. Housing related news included the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April and Housing Starts for March.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Holds Steady Amid Concerns

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI for April ticked upward by one point to a reading of 47 against the March revised reading of 46. Home builders surveyed expressed concerns about high home prices, a lack of available lots for development and a labor shortage. Some desirable markets have been held back due to low inventories of available and/or affordable homes.

Builders surveyed for the HMI were asked to rate three components used in compiling the monthly index; these include current market conditions, market conditions expected over the next six months, and buyer foot traffic in newly built homes. April’s readings were 51, 57 and 32 respectively.

Readings for current market conditions and buyer foot traffic were unchanged from March, but builder confidence for market conditions in the next six months rose by four points.

Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions for newly-built single-family homes than not. 

Housing Starts Pick Up After Winter Storms, But Fall Short Of Expectations

March Housing Starts rose by 2.80 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts as compared to expectations of 990,000 and February’s reading of 920,000 housing starts, which was revised from 907,000 starts.

The March reading represented a 5.90 percent decrease from March 2013, and is consistent with concerns expressed by home builders surveyed for the NAHB HMI for April.

Building permits issued for March were also lower by 2.40 percent at a rate of 990,000 permits issued. This slippage was largely due to the falling rate of building permits issued for apartment construction.

Higher home prices and mortgage rates along with inconsistent (but improving) labor markets were cited as reasons for builder pessimism, but analysts said that projects delayed by severe weather are expected to pick up in the coming months.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Discount Points Hold Steady

Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.27 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.33 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.38 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.03 percent, down from 3.09 percent the previous week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Fed Chair Upbeat In New York Speech

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a positive note in a speech given before the Economic Club of New York last Wednesday. She indicated that the Fed and many economists expect a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. Analysts characterized Yellen’s speech as upbeat on economic recovery and inflation, while “dovish” on monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to monitor current and developing economic situations before making changes to its current monetary policy. She acknowledged that “twists and turns” in the economy could occur, and that Fed policy would shift as needed to address changes.

The Fed also released its Beige Book Report last Wednesday. This report indicated that the economy is recovering in most areas of the U.S.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Leading Economic Indicators, Existing Home Sales for March, FHFA House Price Report for February and New Home Sales for March. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for April rounds out this week’s news. 

 

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Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your Home


2014
04.18

Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your HomeWhen people purchase their home, one of their common requests is “plenty of light.” And for good reason! This is a critical factor for enjoying your home, and when designing your interior, you should pay special attention to just that: your sources of light.

See them not only as a way to brighten up your room, but also as an opportunity to infuse your home with a fashionable design and aesthetic appeal. You’d be surprised at how much lighting can dramatically enhance any given room in your home.

Here are our six favorite lighting installations that are bound to give you and your home that “wow” factor.

The Chandelier For Pretty Places

Chandeliers provide arguably the prettiest and most classic fixtures possible, and they are a growing trend right now in interior design.

Acting as the “centerpiece” if you will to any room, chandeliers offer the perfect amount of brilliance and light, while instantly multiplying the room’s feeling of warmth and appeal. Create a pretty place you won’t be able to resist; hang a modern crystal chandelier above your dining room table or a bright pendant chandelier in your master bedroom.

Quirky and Contemporary Ceiling Lights

To achieve the same sense of fashion-forward style for your home’s decor but in a more practical way for the tall folks, consider a close-to-ceiling light fixture in its many different quirky and contemporary styles. You can also opt for the bright, patterned pendant style, or get a wide crystal embellished highlight for your ceiling lights.

The Demure Brilliance: Recessed Spot Lighting

For the most demure, nearly hidden brilliance, opt for recessed spot lighting. These light installations typically offer dimmer switches and provide the perfect ambiance for any space, especially kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms.

Perfect Pendants For Closer Lighting

Perfect hanging pendants come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be hung in a row for horizontal spaces like your kitchen’s eating bar. They can also be hung at varying lengths to achieve a tasteful fashion statement.

Instant Modernity: Arc Floor Lamp

The arc floor lamp, which typically rests in one corner of the room and reaches over in an arch for center lighting in a sitting area, is a growing trend in home decor. You can find these floor lamps in virtually any style, ranging from textured, retro versions to sleek, contemporary styles.

Matching Shades: Table Lamps

To tie your room together in its design aesthetic, the most perfect – and most simple – option may be matching table lamps. Perfect for your side tables in your living room, or the nightstands on either side of your bed in your master bedroom, matching shades can be a quick fix to a room that needs more brilliance and a more cohesive look.

Whether you already have plenty of natural light flooding your home, you can never have enough brilliance to rely on when the sun goes down. So take a look at these six light installations that will instantly enhance your living space, and infuse your home with the light it deserves.

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How You Can Get The Full Selling Price You Want For Your Home


2014
04.17

How You Can Get the Full Selling Price You Want for Your HomeWhen it comes to selling your home and getting the full selling price you want, there are certain tactics and methods you can employ to ensure that this wish becomes a reality.

Avoiding the commonly made mistakes that end up lowering the value of your home and discouraging people from viewing it is ultimately the key in getting top dollar, as well carrying out the showings and sale of your home in a professional manner.

Listen to the professionals, and make sure you employ these real estate sale methods to get your desired number on your home sale.

Listing Tactic: Adding A Buffer

Always dependent on the type of market you find yourself in, a common and successful tactic in getting the price you really want for your home is adding a buffer on the list price.

This means that if you want $500,000 for your home, you should list your home somewhere around $510,000 to $520,000 to allow for some negotiating room. Even if you’d prefer not to negotiate, the majority of buyers will always assume that you have room to come down on the price, and will put in their offers accordingly.

Overpricing: Avoid At All Costs

With that being said, you don’t want to overprice your home too much so as to discourage potential buyers from looking at it, or to put your home outside of a financial bracket. Make sure you speak to your trusted real estate advisor on exactly what the right list price should be to obtain your desired value.

Increase Desire: Have Your Home Staged

In order to get the price you want for your home, you need to make a good impression on the prospective buyers. Having your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the amount of interest you receive on your home, perhaps even creating multiple offers – which is the best situation a home seller can be in!

Appeal To Online Shoppers With Professional Photos

With so much of today’s modern real estate shopping happening online, you want to ensure that your home has a strong online presence with professional photos and a digital floor plan available to prospective buyers. Also make sure that all information online is full and complete, and presents your home in the best light possible.

Always Say Yes To Open Houses And Showings

Especially in a hot market, you want to ensure that you leave your home empty for your real estate agent on weekends so that they can hold it open to the public. This is especially important early on in your list date so that the buyers on the market who are ready to make a move can see your house right away.

You should also apply the same importance to showings, and ensure that each showing request is promptly responded to with an easy “yes.”

If you put these tactics into your home selling plan, you will find that it will be much easier to obtain more interest from buyers. And with more interest, it will be much more likely that you will be able to obtain the price you want for your home.

So don’t underestimate the importance of these factors, and discuss them today with your trusted mortgage professional.